LaPlace man found guilty of murder

Published 12:15 am Wednesday, February 3, 2016

D.A.: Justice prevails despite lack of witness, law enforcement help 

EDGARD — A LaPlace man faces a life-in-prison sentence this month after a St. John the Baptist Parish jury found him guilty of second degree murder.

Kenneth Hicks

Kenneth Hicks

Kenneth Hicks, 51, of LaPlace, was found guilty Jan. 22 following a three-day trial, District Attorney Bridget A. Dinvaut said.

Hicks was implicated in the killing of 34-year-old Anthony Young of Reserve. Young was pronounced dead at the scene after deputies responded to a shooting at Alex’s Sports Bar in Reserve on Feb. 20, 2013.

Although many witnesses and law enforcement officers were near the shooting or a part of the investigation, only a few cooperated with the prosecution, Dinvaut said.

“I am extremely proud of those officers because they still embrace their duty,” she said. “We have many officers who don’t, and some who refused to come back and testify even though they worked the case. So I am extremely proud of those two former officers who maintained their duty and cared enough about St. John the Baptist Parish to come to court and testify.”

Dinvaut said only two people came forward to give authorities their accounts of the event.

“It took the joint efforts of the St. John the Baptist Parish District Attorney and Sheriff to secure one witness’ presence at trial by having to transport the witness from California to the courthouse in Edgard,” she said. “The St. John jury heard from the eyewitnesses, as well as current and former law enforcement officers who have worked diligently on the case for almost three years.

“Former Deputy Amanda Roh testified that she was the initial responding officer who described the chaos that followed the shooting and the difficulty with which the Sheriff’s Office managed to secure the scene and potential witnesses. Detective Juan Watkins and Former Detective Walter Stevens testified in detail regarding the investigation that followed the 2013 shooting.”

Dinvaut said Young left behind a daughter and a loving family.

She credited Assistant District Attorney Leandre Millet for discrediting the sole defense witness.

A day after the fatal shooting, authorities also arrested Dontae Samuel Bond, 31, of Los Angeles for  principal to first-degree murder.

Dinvaut said Bond participated as a prosecution witness and no longer faces local charges.

He was brought back to California to finish a jail sentence for burglary.

Hicks was originally arrested for first degree murder, but had his charge reduced because Dinvaut said the evidence submitted did not support any aggravating circumstances necessary for a first degree murder charge.

Dinvaut credited witness testimony as an important tool for the prosecution.

“Without them cooperating with law enforcement and taking the stand to testify, it would have definitely reduced the probability of our success at trial,” she said.

“The criminal justice system doesn’t work unless we have people who are willing to come forward, stand up and testify against persons that commit crimes.”

Millet led the prosecution and was assisted by Lead Assistant District Attorney J. Philip Prescott Jr.

Dinvaut’s office indicated Hicks was represented by Public Defenders Eric Goza and Lisa Parker.

Judge Michael Kirby accepted the jury’s verdict and ordered the case set for sentencing on Feb. 22.