The gunfire that killed Milan Arriola as she rode in the passenger seat of a car near St. Bernard Avenue and North Broad Street on July 3 may have been the product of a 2-year-old beef between the car’s driver and the twin brother of suspected killer Will Reed, a New Orleans police detective testified Tuesday.
That driver, Corey Juluke, emerged unscathed from the spray of bullets. He was the lone witness to identify Reed as one of the men who opened fire on the street at 8 p.m., killing Arriola, the daughter of a New Orleans police officer and a firefighter and the niece of New Orleans trumpet player Kermit Ruffins.
The fact that Juluke misidentified Leonard Singleton, another man initially arrested in Arriola’s murder, wasn’t enough to persuade Orleans Parish Magistrate Judge Harry Cantrell to drop the murder count against Reed at a preliminary hearing Tuesday.
Cantrell found probable cause to hold Reed on a second-degree murder count in the killing of Arriola, a 20-year-old Warren Easton Charter High School honors graduate. The judge also hiked Reed’s bail from $350,000 to $500,000, at the request of Assistant District Attorney Irena Zajickova.
NOPD Detective Wayne DeLarge, the lead investigator in the case, testified that Juluke, whom he referred to only as “the witness,” knew Reed and identified him by name and by the star tattooed on his neck.
Juluke, 21, and Reed’s twin brother, Wade Reed, scrapped in November 2013, DeLarge said, and Wade Reed was arrested for assault after the incident.
Wade Reed is now in jail, awaiting trial on a murder rap from a separate killing last year.
The detective suggested that the bad blood prompted Juluke to drive away when he saw Wade Reed’s twin near the McDonald’s on North Broad.
“He saw him moments prior to the shooting. He explained to me he felt in danger. He wanted to leave from where he was at, and he did,” DeLarge said, adding that Juluke saw Will Reed pull out a firearm and then drove off the road attempting to evade the bullets.
Arriola, whose mother, Imani Ruffins, is a veteran NOPD officer, was hit by one of those bullets.
Will Reed’s attorney, Kenneth Hardin Jr., highlighted Juluke’s false identification of Singleton, arguing that Juluke had a reason to pin the murder on Will Reed.
Singleton’s arrest warrant was rescinded the day after the killing. Video footage confirmed that he was at the Oakwood Center mall on the West Bank and couldn’t have reached the homicide scene in time.
The family of Will Reed, who has refused to talk to police, claims Reed was also shopping when Arriola was killed, DeLarge testified. The family says he was at the mall with Jamie Thomas, his twin brother’s “acquaintance or girlfriend,” according to the detective.
Thomas, 20, has her own legal problems. She faces charges of obstruction and accessory after the fact in a separate murder case, in which Wade Reed and two other men, Tavis Leonard and Jonathan Holmes, are accused of killing Charles Meyers on Hayne Boulevard after tying him up during an armed robbery on March 26.
Just what Thomas did to prompt the obstruction and accessory charges was unclear Tuesday. Her attorney, Robert Garrity, said prosecutors with District Attorney Leon Cannizzaro’s office have offered nothing but a few Facebook and cellphone photos that were taken before an arrest warrant for Wade Reed was issued.
Garrity said Thomas, who is free on bond, did see Will Reed at the mall on the night Arriola was killed but that they weren’t together.
Thomas says she scurried off when she saw Will Reed in the Aeropostale store at Lakeside Shopping Center in Metairie shortly before closing, according to Garrity. The mall closes at 9 p.m., an hour after Arriola was killed and about a 10-minute drive away.
“Nobody called her to verify” her story, Garrity said.
DeLarge said the investigation into Arriola’s murder is ongoing and police continue to search for two other men, one of whom Juluke identified as “Damon,” according to a police report.
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