GONZALES — A Donaldsonville man pleaded guilty Tuesday to shooting another man while they were with others on a front porch last year on St. Vincent Street.
In a deal with prosecutors, Shawn Broom, 28, formerly of 504 Catherine St., Donaldsonville, pleaded guilty to manslaughter in the shooting of 21-year-old Michael Stewart last year. Manslaughter carries a sentence of up to 40 years in prison.
The March 10, 2015, slaying in Donaldsonville was one of a string of unrelated shootings in Ascension’s west bank city in the first part of last year that left three injured and three dead and raised concerns from public officials and community activists.
By entering the plea, Broom, who was scheduled for trial Tuesday in Gonzales, avoided possible conviction on a second-degree murder and a mandatory life sentence.
At the time of Broom’s arrest, sheriff’s deputies said that Stewart, before he died, identified Broom as the shooter.
Broom acknowledged Tuesday at the Parish Courthouse Annex in Gonzales that he and Stewart were together on the porch of a home on St. Vincent. Stewart began calling Broom a number of names and made several statements that left Broom with the impression Stewart was armed.
Broom lost his cool and suddenly pulled a gun and shot Stewart, according to the factual basis read out in court.
Judge Thomas Kliebert Jr., of the 23rd Judicial District Court, deferred Broom’s sentence to July 25, pending a pre-sentence investigation.
Assistant District Attorney Shawn Bush said later that Broom had maintained Stewart had a gun and that Broom pulled a second gun off Stewart to shoot him, but investigators never found a second gun.
The owner of the home where the shooting occurred told The Advocate last year that she saw a wounded Stewart run toward several trailer homes behind her house for help after she heard the shots.
Bush added Tuesday that investigators could determine only that Stewart, at most, motioned or otherwise gestured toward his waistband in a way that may have led Broom to think Stewart had a gun.
Stewart was taken to Prevost Memorial Hospital in Donaldsonville where he died the same day of the shooting.
Anishia Etienne, 22, Stewart’s sister, was present Tuesday in court and said Broom’s plea was a relief.
Follow David J. Mitchell on Twitter, @NewsieDave.