Man pleads guilty in carjacking and shooting that left New Orleans lawyer disabled _lowres

Byron Johnson

A New Orleans man pleaded guilty and accepted a 45-year prison sentence Monday, the day he was set to stand trial for a spree of robberies and violence that included shooting local lawyer Sanford Bull “Sandy” Kaynor Jr. during a 2012 carjacking outside his Camp Street house.

After shooting Kaynor, who was left paralyzed, on the night of Oct. 2, 2012, Byron “Poodie Man” Johnson and accomplices entered the house, where the victim’s wife, Grace, and daughter were asleep, police said. They stole various electronics items, a wallet and cash before fleeing in Kaynor’s Cadillac as his bloody body lay in front of the house, police said.

Johnson, 23, pleaded guilty in Orleans Parish Criminal District Court to a dozen counts, including attempted second-degree murder, three counts of armed robbery with a firearm and aggravated battery. District Attorney Leon Cannizzaro’s office agreed not to seek a stiffer sentence under the state’s habitual offender law.

The shooting left Kaynor, then a 58-year-old lawyer with the Jones Walker firm, disabled. Hit in the chest and back, he suffered a brain hemorrhage that left him unable to speak or identify his attackers in the late-night carjacking in the 3400 block of Camp Street.

Court records show that prosecutors fought to include a statement Kaynor made to his wife, in which she says he identified his assailants as three teenagers, two of them with guns. “It’s never going to be OK,” Grace Kaynor recalled her husband saying.

Johnson was set to stand trial alone, severed from his co-defendants in the case. Still awaiting trial are Devante “Tae Banger” Billy, 21, and Charles Carter, 19. In the same case, Shantell Johnson, 31, faces a count of illegal possession of stolen things.

Among other crimes, Billy and Carter are accused of the murder of Valan May, a 24-year-old UNO student, a week after the Camp Street shooting.

Court records suggest the three men went on a rampage of carjackings and robberies. Many of them occurred on the same day Kaynor was shot.

DNA and iPhone tracking software led police to Johnson. Officers found much of the stolen property at his house, according to reports.

Grace Kaynor has since become a vocal advocate for victims of violent crime. City Councilwoman Stacy Head was among the supporters in court for Monday’s plea.

Johnson is due back before Judge Laurie White on Tuesday to listen to victim impact statements. His attorney, James Johnson, declined to comment on the guilty plea.

Follow John Simerman on Twitter, @johnsimerman.