The mother of the alleged triggerman in a 2012 shotgun slaying on Sharlo Avenue in Tigerland was convicted Thursday on a second-degree murder charge in the suspected drug-related robbery.
An East Baton Rouge Parish jury of nine women and three men deliberated for an hour before finding Tressie Newberry, 42, of Baton Rouge, guilty in the killing of Brandon Harris, 29.
Harris’ body was found April 15, 2012, in the 1400 block of Sharlo. He had been shot three times, and his pockets had been emptied.
The guilty verdict was the answer to the prayers of Harris’ family, who waited more than a year for arrests to be made in his slaying, said Harris’ aunt, Carol Harris.
Newberry’s conviction took another two years and four months.
“I’m glad she was found guilty,” Harris said. “She will spend the rest of her life in prison for the evil thing that she and her son did to my nephew.”
Newberry’s son, Mason Chiapuzio, 21, is accused of fatally shooting Brandon Harris and is charged with second-degree murder. A competency hearing in his case is scheduled Oct. 2.
State District Judge Beau Higginbotham will sentence Newberry on Dec. 8. She is being held without bail and faces an automatic term of life in prison.
“We can’t see Brandon anymore. She doesn’t have the right to see her family,” Harris added outside Higginbotham’s courtroom.
Two others — Jennifer Prine, 30, of Watson; and Cameron Reynaud, 25, of Zachary — were booked on murder counts in the Harris case in May 2013, but an East Baton Rouge Parish grand jury declined to indict them later that year.
Prine and Reynaud testified at Newberry’s trial.
Arrest warrants indicated Brandon Harris was in contact with Newberry and Prine via cellphone throughout the last five hours before his death. He died shortly after 2:30 a.m.
Prosecutor Will Morris said after court that Newberry had sold drugs to Harris in the past.
Morris, who said Newberry’s last calls to Harris were at 1:02 a.m. and 1:19 a.m., argued to the jury earlier Thursday that Newberry “set him up” and “led him to the slaughter.”
Newberry drove Harris to Sharlo, he noted.
Newberry’s attorney, Benn Hamilton, described the evidence against his client as flimsy. He acknowledged Newberry called Harris but said the calls didn’t prove she was involved in the killing.