An Orleans Parish judge sentenced an accused “Back of Town” gang associate to 100 years in prison Friday for spraying AK-47 gunfire from the sunroof of a rolling Chevy at two men in a Cadillac in November 2011, injuring one.
After a four-day trial last month, a jury took less than an hour to convict Kenneth “Bud” Jones, 27, on two counts of attempted murder and a gun charge stemming from the shooting at Franklin Avenue and Wisteria Street in Gentilly.
Prosecutors Alex Calenda and Jason Napoli persuaded the jury that Jones was firing on alleged “Park Boys” Jeremiah “Hood” Harris and Merlin “Mitch” Smothers Jr. from a blue Monte Carlo as part of a dispute between rival 9th Ward gangs.
Both Harris and Smothers testified against Jones, but only Harris, who still has a bullet lodged in his neck, identified Jones as the triggerman.
Harris at first didn’t tell police who shot him, but on the witness stand, he explained that he’d wanted to mete out his own justice if given the chance.
“I wanted to stay out the way, make money and if I catch Bud, I just wanted to murder him,” said Jones, an admitted heroin dealer. “I seen Bud standing through the roof of a car shooting an AK at us. I was 100 percent sure it was Bud.”
At least 11 bullets were fired into Harris’ cream-colored Cadillac CTS.
Prosecutors portrayed Jones as muscle for the Back of Town gang in a Lower 9th Ward feud with the Park Boys. They said the dispute was ignited with the April 2011 slaying of Jones’ cousin, 23-year-old Everick “E” Mitchell, on Morrice Duncan Drive.
The prosecutors said Jones shot Smothers in New Orleans East five months later but didn’t kill him. He targeted other Park Boys as well before the Nov. 22 shootout. Ballistics and forensic evidence linked Jones to multiple shootings over the course of 2011.
Criminal District Court Judge Karen Herman noted the extraordinary violence in agreeing to sentence Jones to the maximum.
“I was really shocked by the level of violence and basically the rampage that you conducted throughout the city of New Orleans,” the judge said. The evidence, she said, showed “you have absolutely no regard for human life, no regard for the safety of any individual of this city, and that you intended to execute as many people as you could.
“And the only reason you were convicted of attempted murder is because you weren’t a very good shot.”
Jones stood silently as his attorney, Harry Daniels III, argued in vain for a more lenient sentence. Jones did not testify in his own defense.
Follow John Simerman on Twitter, @johnsimerman.