Jury hands down conspiracy to commit 2nd degree murder conviction following Reserve man’s death

Published 12:13 am Saturday, October 22, 2016

EDGARD — A St. John the Baptist Parish man is facing sentencing Dec. 21 after a local jury found him guilty of conspiracy to commit second degree murder.

The St. John Clerk of Court’s office said a 12-person jury found Dermaine Norman guilty Oct. 12 in Judge J. Sterling Snowdy’s courtroom.

Norman’s guilty verdict stems from the shooting death of Reserve resident Frank Lewis on June 17, 2011.

Authorities and court records indicate Lewis, 42, was leaving for work in the morning when he was shot multiple times in front of his home in the 100 block of East 14th Street in Reserve.

St. John Sheriff’s Office deputies arrested Carlton Brown and Kentrell Bailey two months later, booking Bailey with second-degree murder and Brown with principal to second-degree murder.

Norman was arrested shortly thereafter and booked with principal to second-degree murder.

According to authorities, the killing resulted from a falling out between Lewis and Norman, friends who worked together in a concrete business. Norman believed Lewis had caused him to lose his job after he had suffered a gunshot wound in May 2011, court records show.

Bailey, Norman’s cousin, learned of the dispute and acted as the gunman. Brown was the driver of a getaway vehicle.

Brown pleaded guilty in February of 2012 to accessory after the fact to second-degree murder, agreeing to serve a five-year sentence.

The plea deal meant Brown agreed to testify if called as a witness during the trials of the others arrested.

District Attorney Bridget Dinvaut said Bailey also entered into a plea agreement with prosecutors after being identified as the shooter. Bailey received a five-year sentence and was released from custody based upon the length of time he had already served.

“No longer than a week after he was out of jail, (Bailey) was murdered,” Dinvaut said.

According to Dinvaut, the time that elapsed from the killing’s date, unforeseen turns with witnesses and a convoluted case path that included three appellate court and two state supreme court rulings made Norman’s prosecution difficult.

“It was a successful prosecution,” she said. “The two attorneys that handled the case did an excellent job. We were also quite happy that some of the sheriff’s deputies that are no longer here honored their commitment and came to court to testify.”

Dinvaut said Norman has a prior conviction that could impact his sentencing.

“I can’t say enough about the people who come to court and testify in these cases,” Dinvaut said. “It is imperative. That is where our evidence comes from.

“Mr. Brown cooperated with us in the trial, and justice was served.”

St. John Sheriff Mike Tregre said the killing was an unfortunate result of an inability by some to solve their disputes without the use of violence.

“We’re glad justice was served,” he said. “The officers did a very good job on this case.”