A New Orleans man pleaded guilty in the middle of trial this week for a botched stickup of the “Dat Dog” eatery on Freret Street in 2012 that left the manager with a gun shot wound to the arm.
Orleans Parish Criminal District Judge Darryl Derbigny sentenced Nathaniel Jones, 22, to a 25-year prison term shortly after Jones pleaded guilty Wednesday to attempted murder and attempted armed robbery.
His guilty plea came after testimony had begun in a second try at a jury trial on the attempted armed robbery count. The first trial was halted early in the week when the criminal courthouse at Tulane Avenue and Broad Street went dark in a power outage amid intense thunderstorms that trolled across the region.
Jones was accused of holding up the popular hot dog joint at 10 a.m. on Dec. 17 2012, brandishing a weapon and demanding money. The manager went to the safe but couldn’t open it as the robber cursed at him to hurry up or be shot.
Another employee entered the room, momentarily distracting the gunman, and the manager tried to wrestle away the gun but ended up shot, according to a police report.
Police, acting on a Crimestoppers tip that the culprit went by “Lil Brother,” came up with Jones. The witnesses then identified him in a photo lineup.
Derbigny deemed Jones incompetent to stand trial in late 2013. He claimed to hear voices, but officials at a state hospital determined in early 2014 that Jones was malingering by “fabricating cognitive defects and psychotic symptoms.”
Jones could have faced up to 99 years in prison under the state’s habitual offender law. Orleans Parish District Attorney Leon Cannizzaro’s office agreed not to seek sentencing as a repeat offender in exchange for his plea.
“I think he showed remorse at the time of the plea and didn’t want to make the victim testify,” said Jones’ attorney, John Hall Thomas.
Thomas said said Jones grew up in the St. Bernard housing project and was a recipient of settlement money from a lead poisoning class action suit.