Brothers admit to 2013 Mother’s Day second-line shooting rampage, plead guilty in federal court _lowres

Akein Scott, Mother's Day shooting suspect

A federal appeals court has upheld the life sentence a judge handed to Akein Scott, one of two brothers who opened fire into a crowd of second-line revelers on Mother's Day 2013, wounding 20.

Akein "Keemy" Scott, 23, had argued that federal prosecutors broke a promise they made during plea negotiations by implicating him at his sentencing in a separate crime: the Feb. 3, 2012, murder of James Gould at Annette and North Villere streets.

Also implicated in Gould's slaying were two of Scott's brothers, Travis and Stanley Scott.

Before Akein Scott pleaded guilty in 2015 to eight federal counts over the Mother's Day shooting and other crimes, his attorney told prosecutors she would advise him against pleading guilty if the feds planned to cite Gould's murder to try to ratchet up his sentence.

Prosecutors replied that they didn't plan on doing that. But they unfurled evidence in the Gould killing as "relevant conduct" at a sentencing hearing last year.

In Friday's ruling, however, a panel of the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals noted that nowhere in Scott's written plea agreement did prosecutors promise him they wouldn't bring up Gould's killing.

The appeals court also noted that U.S. District Judge Ivan Lemelle said he would have handed down the same life sentence regardless of Gould's killing.   

Akein Scott and his brother Shawn "Shizzle" Scott admitted in a "factual basis" that they participated in the Mother's Day shooting to bolster the status of the Frenchmen and Derbigny gang, a violent heroin-dealing outfit led by Travis Scott that made the Frenchmen Meat Market its hub.

Among the 20 shooting victims was the target, a member of a rival gang, the Prieur Columbus Boys, who was identified only as "J.T." in court records. 

No one was killed initially from the gunfire that tore through the crowd. But nearly four years later, New Orleans writer Deborah Cotton died this month from what friends said were lingering health problems from the internal injuries she suffered in the bloodletting.

Whether prosecutors will pursue murder charges against the two brothers for her death is uncertain.

After the shooting, Cotton developed a relationship with Akein Scott, visiting him in prison and exchanging letters. She publicly expressed empathy for him as she decried the revolving door of the criminal justice system.

Follow John Simerman on Twitter, @johnsimerman.