A New Orleans hit-and-run driver who struck and killed a 6-year-old boy last year in Gentilly was found guilty of manslaughter Friday in Orleans Parish Criminal District Court.
Arthur Toledano, 23, faces between 10 and 40 years in prison at his sentencing hearing, which is scheduled for Wednesday before Judge Dennis Waldron. The judge convicted Toledano as charged after a two-day, nonjury trial.
District Attorney Leon Cannizzaro said Toledano represented “a serious threat to public safety” and condemned his “blatant disregard for societal norms.”
“Not only was this a horrific tragedy, but what truly disgusted me about this case was the defendant’s refusal to take responsibility for his actions,” Cannizzaro said in a statement. “He fled the scene following the accident and even attempted to blame the victims for the accident at trial.”
The hit-and-run, which took the life of Shaud Wilson, a first-grader at Akili Academy, happened Feb. 3, 2014, on Paris Avenue, near Lucy’s Supermarket and the intersection of Lafreniere Street. Authorities estimated Toledano, who has several previous traffic citations, was driving 71 mph in a 35-mph zone in a Honda Crosstour.
Toledano veered into the middle lane to pass a black truck that had stopped for a group of children scampering across the crosswalk to get to their bus stop. A surveillance video captured the 6:59 a.m. hit-and-run frame by frame.
The impact, which ripped the “H” emblem from the center of the vehicle’s grill, mortally wounded Shaud, who died about an hour later at Interim LSU Hospital. The boy’s sister, Shanaya, 10, received head injuries when she was struck by the vehicle’s side mirror.
The video shows the SUV veering into the middle lane and racing past the yielding truck. Shaud then vanishes from view.
In testimony this week, Errol Williams, an uncle of the victims, said Toledano continued driving after striking the children. “He looked me right in my face,” Williams said, “and drove right past.”
Toledano lived about a mile away and returned to his home after the incident. New Orleans police, who identified Toledano based on an anonymous tip, said he never denied being the driver but claimed he had driven away out of fear. No drugs or alcohol were found in his system.
Toledano’s defense attorney, Stavros Panagoulopoulos, called Shaud’s death “a tragic accident.” At the time of the incident, he said, Toledano had been hurrying home to pick up a bag so he could go to work as a hotel server.
“He was working (after the accident) to figure out what he was going to do,” Panagoulopoulos said earlier this week. “He just watched his whole world crash.”
Assistant District Attorneys Lauren Favret and Mike Lopez prosecuted the case.
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