A 57-year-old New Orleans man pleaded guilty Monday and accepted a 15-year prison sentence for intentionally running over a 17-year-old girl in 2013 following an argument.
Claude Samuels pleaded guilty to vehicular homicide and negligent injuring after grappling with the decision for hours on his scheduled trial date.
Orleans Parish Criminal District Court Judge Karen Herman ordered Samuels, who has health problems, sent to a state geriatric facility.
According to police, Samuels had given Catina Williams and members of her family a ride home to the 5100 block of Montegut Street in the Desire neighborhood on Sept. 8, 2013, when they got into an argument.
The fighting continued outside the car and Samuels pulled out a knife, police said. Soon after that, he got back in the driver’s seat, “turned the wheel to the left and accelerated,” hitting Catina Williams and pinning her beneath the vehicle, according to a police report.
Samuels then revved the engine while Catina Williams was trapped there and tried to flee but bystanders pulled him out of the vehicle. Williams died four days later from her injuries.
According to a report from New Orleans Police Detective Debra Normand, Samuels had a blood-alcohol level nearly twice the legal limit.
Police also accused him of taking aim at a sister of Catina Williams.
His criminal record includes guilty pleas in 2012 to unauthorized use of a motor vehicle and cocaine possession.
Originally charged with murder and attempted murder, Samuels had pleaded for kindness in a letter to the judge.
“The horrible picture that’s being painted of me in the courtroom really isn’t me at all,” he said.
“I am not the kind of person that sit back and premeditate criminal activity. My heart won’t allow me to participate in that foolish type of physical activity.”
Follow John Simerman on Twitter, @johnsimerman.