Jefferson man faces life sentence in killing acquaintance, abuse _lowres

Jacoby Maize

Jacoby Maize, a Kenner man accused of brutally beating his wife, fatally shooting an acquaintance and then setting ablaze the home in Old Jefferson where it all happened five years ago, was convicted Friday of second-degree murder and other charges.

Maize, 38, faces a mandatory life sentence, according to the Jefferson Parish District Attorney’s Office.

Prosecutors told the jury that Maize killed 34-year-old Justin Hendricks Jr. in April 2011 after Hendricks called 911 anonymously to report that Maize had beaten his own wife with a pistol. Hendricks was shot in the pelvis at his home in the 100 block of Maine Street and left to bleed to death after the bullet severed a femoral artery.

Maize returned early the next day with two cans of gasoline and set the house on fire in an attempt to destroy the crime scene, prosecutors said.

Along with the murder charge, Maize was convicted of aggravated arson, aggravated second-degree battery, witness intimidation, aggravated assault with a firearm and being a convicted felon in possession of a firearm.

Assistant District Attorney Doug Freese told jurors that Maize had trapped his wife, Cynthia Cruz, in an abusive relationship — an “absolute nightmare existence.”

The jury heard testimony that Maize shot at her, pistol-whipped her, sliced her left cheek with a knife and ordered her to “kiss the ground” before beating her with a baseball bat. He threatened to kill her family if she told anyone he shot Hendricks.

Freese called Maize a “low and cowardly abuser of women” who at one point struck Cruz with a pistol for saying “hello” to another man.

He also presented cellphone records showing that Maize spoke with Hendricks after the 911 call and that Hendricks told a friend he feared Maize would retaliate.

The jury deliberated about an hour before finding Maize guilty as charged of all seven counts. He showed no reaction. Judge Henry Sullivan, of 24th Judicial District Court, set sentencing for March 28.

Maize denied all the charges except the firearm possession count.

He accused his wife of killing Hendricks, and he dismissed the witnesses who testified against him, including Sheriff’s Office detectives Rhonda Goff and Sgt. Eddie Klein.

“All of your witnesses are liars, proven liars,” Maize told Freese during cross-examination. “You brought a bunch of liars.”

Maize’s wife testified that she endured daily abuse but never called police or left the relationship.

“I wanted to be loved,” she said. “I thought that was love. I thought I could get no better. I thought I found someone who wanted me and held my hand. So I stayed.”