The hit-and-run killing of a New Orleans police officer in 2013 and an effort to conceal the damaged sports car that struck him resulted in another guilty plea Friday.
John Chambers, 31, pleaded guilty to four felony charges, including being an accessory after the fact to manslaughter, obstruction of justice and two related conspiracy counts.
Orleans Parish Criminal District Court Judge Karen Herman sentenced him to five years in prison.
That sentence, however, is an afterthought to the mandatory life prison terms that Herman last week handed Chambers and his friend Kenneth Halley, 31, following their convictions in a 2005 execution-style murder.
District Attorney Leon Cannizzaro’s office resurrected the long-dormant murder case shortly after the July 2013 collision that killed veteran NOPD Officer Rodney Thomas on the Interstate 10 high-rise bridge.
Thomas, who was off duty, had left his truck to check on a stalled car when he was struck by Halley’s $80,000 white Porsche Panamera, authorities say.
Chambers’ guilty plea leaves only Halley and 27-year-old Justin McKey, the two alleged occupants of the Porsche, still facing charges in the case.
Four others, including body shop owner Bill Cager and now Chambers, have pleaded guilty for their roles in stashing the damaged Porsche at Cager’s body shop on Broad Street.
Halley, who faces manslaughter, obstruction and conspiracy charges, refused a plea offer on Friday, and Herman set a July 11 trial date. She ordered him to remain in Orleans Parish Prison, drawing a sneer from Halley.
McKey faces a single manslaughter charge in the veteran officer’s killing and remains free on $20,000 bond.
Prosecutors have not publicly declared who they think was driving the Porsche, though police initially said it was McKey.
Chambers was caught on a video at the body shop, but his attorney, David Belfield, said his only involvement was that he “received a phone call from someone who needed a ride, and he picked that person up and dropped them off.”
A decade ago, Halley and Chambers were booked in the murder of 21-year-old Joseph Lucien, who was gunned down with an AK-47 on April 5, 2005, in the Lower 9th Ward.
Then-District Attorney Eddie Jordan dismissed the case after witnesses refused to cooperate. But two of those witnesses testified last month that first Halley and then Chambers fired on Lucien in broad daylight, and a jury convicted them on second-degree murder charges. Belfield has promised to appeal that ruling.
Follow John Simerman on Twitter, @johnsimerman.