GONZALES — A New Orleans man who remained on the lam for more than four years in a May 2009 kidnapping and armed robbery in Donaldsonville pleaded guilty Friday and was sentenced to 20 years in state prison.
Prosecutors in Ascension Parish said Charles Washington, 46, was the last of three men to be convicted in the robbery, in which he and his fleeing co-defendants led Ascension Parish authorities on a car chase on Interstate 10 from Gonzales north to College Drive in Baton Rouge, firing twice at chasing sheriff’s deputies.
With the deal, Washington, 3301 Canal St., No. 2, who escaped on foot after that chase while his co-defendants didn’t, avoided the practical life sentences that Lester Bell and Michael Comery received after their joint trial in May 2011. Bell and Comery, both of Baton Rouge, were each given 184 years in state prison.
Defense attorney Jarrett Ambeau said Friday that at the time of Bell’s trial, Washington had not been positively identified as the third suspect in the robbery.
Tyler Cavalier, spokesman for the 23rd Judicial District Attorney’s Office, said U.S. Marshals Service agents didn’t find Washington in New Orleans until Nov. 21, 2013.
Washington, Bell and Comery broke into a Donaldsonville home on May 2, 2009, armed with semi-automatic pistols, and demanded money and cellphones from several people in the home.
Then, the trio took the four people from the home, made them drive to another residence and stole an income tax check for approximately $5,000 from the man who lived in the first house that was robbed, according to Washington’s plea and other court papers.
Judge Jessie LeBlanc, of the 23rd Judicial District, who stood in Friday for presiding Judge Thomas Kliebert Jr., accepted Washington’s plea deal to one count of armed robbery and four counts of second-degree kidnapping, prosecutors said.
Washington received his 20-year sentence on each count without the benefit of probation, parole or suspension of sentence, but the sentences will run concurrently, prosecutors said.
An Ascension Parish jury convicted Bell, 54, and Comery, 57, on four counts of second-degree kidnapping and single counts of armed robbery and attempted armed robbery for combined sentences of 184 years.
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