A man accused in the hit-and-run killing of New Orleans police Officer Rodney Thomas and one of the men accused of helping him try to cover up his role both were booked on battery counts this week for allegedly sending a fellow Orleans Parish Prison inmate to the hospital with broken bones, court records show.
Kenneth Halley and John Chambers, co-defendants in both the 2013 hit-and-run death and a decade-old murder case, were booked this week on second-degree battery counts, as was OPP inmate Jonathan Holmes, 20. All three either refused to speak with investigators or denied their involvement in the alleged beating of Johnell Mott on Feb. 12.
The incident took place two days after Mott, of Destrehan, was jailed for failing to abide by drug-court conditions stemming from a heroin and marijuana possession rap, records show.
The specific injuries that Mott suffered were not described in court records. A police report says he was released from the jail on Tuesday, at which point authorities booked Halley, Chambers and Holmes on the battery counts.
Halley, 30, denied involvement in an attack, saying he couldn’t fight with anyone because of his dialysis treatment, a report says.
In a case that continues to lurch toward a May 5 trial date, prosecutors claim Halley was driving a Porsche Panamera that struck Thomas on the I-10 high-rise bridge on the night of July 7, 2013, then sped away, leaving Thomas fatally injured. He and Justin McKey, who police originally pegged as the driver, both face manslaughter counts. Halley also faces obstruction and accessory counts from the alleged cover-up.
Hours before Thomas was run down after stopping on the bridge to respond to a stalled car, police conducting a traffic stop found Halley sitting in the driver’s seat of the Porsche near the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Documents show the sports car had been purchased for Halley at an online auction two months earlier.
Authorities say Halley later drove the Porsche to a body shop on Broad Street near the Criminal District Courthouse, seeking to hide the damage. Chambers faces accessory and obstruction counts as part of the alleged cover-up.
Three others have pleaded guilty in the case. Nephateria Jones and James Ratliff both pleaded guilty last year and received suspended sentences.
Bill Cager, who owns the body shop where the Porsche allegedly was hidden, received five years of probation after admitting he hid the sports car while knowing it had been driven in a hit-and-run accident.
Halley and Chambers, 30, have remained behind bars since their 2013 arrests, although Halley was mistakenly released for three weeks last year by state corrections officials.
The pair also face murder charges in the killing of 21-year-old Joseph Lucien in the Lower 9th Ward on April 5, 2005.
That case had lain dormant for years before Halley and Chambers were jailed in Thomas’ killing. The two men were arrested in 2005 but never prosecuted. Police said in 2013 that “new intelligence” led investigators to take another look at Lucien’s death.
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