D.A. credits victim shot 5 times with securing plea

Published 12:11 am Saturday, November 21, 2015

EDGARD — Legal authorities are crediting the strength and help of a local woman who was shot five times for allowing prosecutors to secure a LaPlace man’s guilty plea and long prison sentence.

Dennis Lee Johnson

Dennis Lee Johnson

St. John the Baptist Parish District Attorney Bridget Dinvaut’s Office said Dennis Lee Johnson, 57, pleaded guilty Oct. 6 to attempted second-degree murder and aggravated criminal damage to property, receiving sentences of 20 and 10 years at hard labor, respectively.

“We could not have done this without Ms. Wanda Marks,” Dinvaut said. “She gets the majority of the credit for this. She was vigilant and she cooperated. She was prepared. She never wavered. That is what really and truly determines the kind of success that you can have at trial.”

Autho-rities said Wanda Marks-Zeno was shot in the leg, stomach, back and chest Nov. 3, 2014, after an argument over money with Johnson.

The St. John the Baptist Parish Sheriff’s Office previously reported Johnson and Marks-Zeno lived together in a Dove Street residence. Sheriff’s Office deputies located Marks-Zeno, 46 at the time of the shooting, in the driveway of a residence on Hawk Street in LaPlace.

According to authorities, witnesses identified the shooter as Johnson. Witnesses told investigators the victim and Johnson were arguing about money Johnson owed the victim when he pulled out a handgun and shot her.

Witnesses said Johnson fled on foot. Deputies later responded to the intersection of Dove Street and Cardinal Street at 6:31 a.m. Nov. 4, 2014, and located Johnson covered in mud.

According to the D.A.’s office, lead prosecutor Newton T. Savoie prosecuted Johnson’s case last month, which Judge Madeline Jasmine presided over.

“I cannot tell you how invaluable (Marks-Zeno) was, as well as the police officers in securing that plea,” Dinvaut said.

“Every victim is consulted on any kind of a plea agreement. Ms. Wanda Marks was there. She agreed to it, so we went forward with it.”