A 24-year-old Baton Rouge man was convicted Friday night of second-degree murder in the 2011 shooting death of a Honduran man during a botched armed robbery on Tracy Avenue.
Corderrius “Pooche” Mitchell was accused of driving a group of friends to Tracy to commit a robbery and serving as the getaway driver.
Mitchell, who earlier in the week turned down an offer to plead guilty to manslaughter in exchange for a 25-year prison term, now faces a mandatory sentence of life behind bars in the killing of Fausto David Ortiz-Herrera.
State District Judge Mike Erwin scheduled sentencing for Feb. 26. The jury deliberated about an hour before returning the unanimous verdict.
East Baton Rouge Parish Assistant District Attorney Kathleen Barrios told the jury in her closing arguments Friday that Mitchell and his alleged accomplices — Reshaud Johnson, David Michael Betz and Keandre Duane Collins — planned to rob a Hispanic person on Tracy Avenue the night of Dec. 16, 2011.
Barrios said Mitchell and his alleged associates looked at Ortiz-Herrera as a “walking ATM” and “perfect victim” — someone who she said was probably in the country illegally and would be unlikely to report being robbed out of fear of immigration officials.
“This was a population who was targeted because they are easy,” she added.
The prosecutor alleged Mitchell drove his friends to Tracy Avenue that night, handed Collins a gun and also acted as the getaway driver.
Barrios showed jurors a police dash-cam video of a high-speed chase that began on nearby Sunnybrook Drive and ended with at least two men, the driver and another man, jumping out of the car and running away. Barrios argued Mitchell was the driver who fled and Betz was the other man.
Mitchell, she said, later told his mother to report his car stolen.
Mitchell’s attorney, Carson Marcantel, argued to the jury that there were far too many unanswered questions to find Mitchell guilty of second-degree murder.
“Who started what?” he asked of the confrontation that allegedly initiated the fatal shooting. “We don’t have a clue what happened here.”
Barrios admitted her case was circumstantial — no eyewitness to the shooting testified — but told jurors she gave them enough information to reach a guilty verdict.
“This robbery went south because they ended up shooting this guy,” she argued.
Collins is set for trial July 18. He and Johnson and Betz each are charged with second-degree murder. East Baton Rouge Parish District Attorney Hillar Moore III has said ballistics evidence led to Collins’ 2014 indictment.