Uri Stevenson said she has not slept soundly since her husband, Alvin Grace, was shot and killed more than a year ago. On Friday, she got the news she has been waiting for ever since: The main suspect in the killing, Leslie “Laddie” Brown, had been taken into custody.
“I’ve been waiting so long, you don’t know,” Stevenson said. “I’m so happy. I want to cry so badly.”
A magistrate judge set bail for Brown, 21, at $750,000 on a single count of second-degree murder Friday morning.
His arrest the day before was the latest chapter in a story that began years ago.
Grace and Brown grew up together on the same rough streets in the 9th Ward. Stevenson said her husband and Brown had been friends.
Grace’s record shows convictions for possession of crack cocaine in 2004 and 2009. He also was arrested in August 2011 in the 7th Ward shooting death of Lakita Brown, who was Leslie Brown’s cousin, according to Stevenson. But no online court record remains of that case, which Stevenson said was quickly dropped. Police arrested another man, Kenneth “Bud” Jones, for the same crime in December 2011. The District Attorney’s Office later refused that charge.
Stevenson said Grace was leaving his past behind him when he was killed. The aspiring rapper, 29 at the time of his death, recently had signed a recording deal.
But for some reason, according to an arrest warrant signed by Detective Joseph Jefferson, Grace and Brown got into an argument that turned physical near the corner of Urquhart and Bartholomew streets about 6 p.m. Oct. 7, 2014.
Stevenson said Grace’s earlier arrest in the Lakita Brown case had nothing to do with the fight.
“They was arguing over an ongoing feud in the neighborhood,” she said. “I didn’t think it was going to escalate. They were friends.”
Residents told WWL-TV at the time they believed three recent murders in the area were tied to a group called the Bartholomew-Alvar gang — “BAM” for short.
The sparring men were separated by onlookers, according to the warrant. But as the fight continued onto Bartholomew Street, a witness told police, a “volley of gunshots” suddenly sounded.
The NOPD obtained a warrant for Brown’s arrest on Nov. 24, 2014, but he had remained at large since then.
Stevenson said she is convinced Brown killed her husband of three years. Ever since the slaying, she said, the 3-year-old son she had with Grace has been crying for his dad.
“Alvin was a good person. Alvin had three children, two little boys and a little girl,” she said. “He was just trying to change his life around.”
Court records show Brown turned himself in. His next court appearance is set for Dec. 11. Stevenson credits a higher power for the arrest.
“This got to be God. This has to be God,” she said. “Thank you, Jesus. I feel so good.”