New Orleans man found guilty in fatal hit-and-run of boy _lowres

Arthur Toledano

New Orleans police Detective Richard Blackman knew enough to turn away from the screen. A moment later, gasps rose from an Orleans Parish courtroom.

Prosecutors were playing vivid footage of a Gentilly intersection from the morning of Feb. 3, 2014, when 6-year-old Shaud Wilson and his sister Shanaya were crossing Paris Avenue to get to their school bus stop.

Their two other siblings had just bounded across the busy street, and now a truck had stopped at Lafreniere Street to let Shaud and Shanaya do the same from the neutral ground.

The video shows a sport utility vehicle veering into the middle lane and racing past the yielding truck. Shaud vanishes from view.

He had been struck head-on by a Honda Crosstour doing what Blackman calculated as 71 mph — twice the speed limit. The impact ripped the H emblem from the center of the vehicle’s grill. It killed Shaud, a first-grader at Akili Academy.

Shanaya was struck by the driver’s side mirror, fell, got up and staggered, “like I was asleep. I was walking, then I fell in the street,” the 10-year-old testified Monday morning, a red bow in her hair.

The driver, Roosevelt Hotel worker and former Southern University student Arthur Toledano, drove to his home less than a mile away.

Whether the killing amounted to manslaughter, negligent homicide or hit-and-run — or was simply a grim accident — will be for retired Civil District Court Judge Dennis Waldron to decide in a trial that began Monday and will resume on Friday.

Toledano, now 23, sat quietly at the defense table as prosecutors with District Attorney Leon Cannizzaro’s office questioned young Shanaya and 12-year-old Shaun Wilson about the fatal hit.

“I saw (the SUV) come around the stopped car and hit my brother in the middle,” Shaun testified.

“You said your sister got back up after about a minute?” Assistant District Attorney Lauren Favret asked.

“Uh-huh,” he replied.

“Did your brother ever get up?”


An uncle, Errol Williams, pointed to Toledano as the man he saw stop and then drive on.

“He looked me right in my face and drove right past,” Williams said.

Detectives found the Honda in the 1600 block of Charlton Drive, several blocks north of the scene of the crash, and arrested Toledano.

Blackman said Toledano never denied being the driver, explaining that he’d driven away out of fear and confusion.

Blackman said tests revealed no drugs or alcohol in Toledano’s system after the 6:59 a.m. incident.

Toledano, who is free on $25,000 bond, faces a minimum 10-year prison sentence if convicted on the manslaughter count because the victim was under 10 years old; the maximum penalty would be 40 years. Waldron also could find Toledano guilty of negligent homicide, which would mean two to five years. Hit-and-run, a charge he also faces, carries a 10-year maximum sentence with no minimum.

Favret and Assistant District Attorney Mark Lopez wrapped up their case against Toledano on Monday afternoon.

Waldron is sitting in for Judge Frank Marullo, who on Friday was disqualified from taking the bench while the state Judiciary Commission considers whether he’s too old to serve.

Waldron granted Toledano’s defense attorney, Stavros Panagoulopoulos, a delay before presenting a defense on Friday.

“A tragic accident occurred. Now he’s on trial fighting for his life over a possible 40 years,” Panagoulopoulos said after the state rested.

He said Toledano, who has no felony record, was rushing home to pick up a bag on his way to work as a hotel server when he hit the children.

“The kid freaked out,” he said of his client driving off. “The severity of the accident, the seriousness of it is something people are not used to happening. Was it right? No, but he was not intending to flee. He was working to figure out what he was going to do. He just watched his whole world crash.”

Toledano had received a number of traffic-related citations in Jefferson Parish in the months before the fatal accident.

He was ticketed in May 2013 for careless operation and driving with a suspended license after being held at fault in a four-vehicle crash on Veterans Memorial Boulevard, court records show.

Lake Pontchartrain Causeway police also ticketed him that October after he was clocked driving 82 mph in a 65-mph zone on the southbound span of the bridge. He again was cited for driving on a suspended license.

Toledano also was cited in New Orleans in August 2012 for running a red light and had his license suspended after failing to appear in court.

Follow John Simerman on Twitter, @johnsimerman.