St. John armed robber gets 20 years

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, July 3, 2019

EDGARD — Instead of taking his chances with a criminal jury trial June 18, a St. John the Baptist Parish man pled guilty as charged to one count of armed robbery with a firearm and accepted a plea offer of 20 years with the Department of Corrections.

Deiontae Johnson, 20, of LaPlace, elected to waive his right to a jury of St. John Parish residents and pled guilty to the charges stemming from a late-night robbery committed in 2017.

In the early morning hours of January 29, 2017, St. John Sheriff’s Office deputies responded to the area of 130 Smith Street in LaPlace in relation to reports of an armed robbery. Deputies spoke with a young man and a young woman who said two men forced them out of their vehicle at gunpoint and stole cell phones, a pair of shoes, and three one-dollar bills.

The victims reported the two men then fled in a red pickup truck. Deputies learned there had been a string of similar robberies in the previous days in New Orleans. Later that evening, deputies located the red pickup truck suspected of being involved in the New Orleans and LaPlace robberies.

Deputies acted swiftly in safely apprehending the suspects in the vehicle. At the time of the traffic stop, Deiontae Johnson and Jeremy Landfair, 24, of LaPlace, were found to be inside the vehicle, along with cell phones and shoes believed to have belonged to the victims of the LaPlace robbery. Evidence of the New Orleans robberies was also believed to be within the vehicle. St. John deputies and New Orleans Police Department detectives worked to investigate robbery.  The victims were able to identify Deiontae Johnson as one of the perpetrators.

Prosecutors from the St. John Parish District Attorney’s Office worked with law enforcement agencies to bring this case to trial.

In the years since the crime, the victims of the incident were unable to be located, which caused lengthy delays in the process. However, on June 18, St. John prosecutors were able to secure the presence of the victims and stood ready to try the case before Ad Hoc Judge Kirk Vaughn.

Johnson pled guilty after learning the victims and co-defendant Landfair were present and prepared to testify against him.

Vaughn explained to Johnson that he must serve 20 years at hard labor with the Louisiana Department of Corrections, and that the sentence must be served without benefit of probation, parole or suspension of sentence.

In a recent press release, the District Attorney’s Office highlighted the importance of citizen cooperation.

“The District Attorney’s Office works diligently to assist victims of violent crimes through the entire criminal process, but without victim cooperation the ability of prosecutors to protect the victims and public is severely diminishes,” the release said. “Witnesses and victims are vital to the administration of justice, and when victims fail to appear in court, the process of justice cannot fulfill its goals.”

Landfair is presently set for an Aug. 19 plea status hearing in Edgard.

Assistant District Attorneys J. Philip Prescott Jr. and Geoffrey Michel prosecuted Johnson’s case. St. John Public Defender Shannon Battiste represented Johnson.