By a 10-2 vote, a Jefferson Parish jury has convicted a Metairie man of killing a childhood friend and two women as the four of them returned from a trip to a sporting-goods store last year.
Corey "Cocomo" Woods, 33, was found guilty Thursday night of three counts of second-degree murder in the deaths of his friend, Malcolm Wallace, 25; Wallace's girlfriend, Daneka Lott, 24; and Wallace’s little sister, Monica Bates, 16.
He also was convicted of being a felon in possession of a firearm.
Prosecutors said that Woods killed Wallace on behalf of another man with whom Wallace was said to be feuding. The two women were killed so there would be no witnesses, prosecutors said.
The four had been watching a football game at the Wallace family's house in Metairie on Jan. 22, 2017, when they decided to go to Academy Sports so the women could buy slippers. They also went to a fast-food restaurant.
On the way home, Lott pulled the 2006 Honda Accord over to the side of the road on South Laurel Street, near where the Wallaces lived. Woods, who was sitting in the back seat on the driver's side, took out a 9 mm semi-automatic pistol and shot and killed Wallace, then turned the gun on Lott and Bates.
Jefferson Parish District Attorney Paul Connick's office said Wallace was shot twice. One of the bullets severed his spinal cord, causing an injury that would have left him paralyzed had he survived, forensic pathologist Dana Trosclair testified.
Lott, the driver, was shot in the right side of her head. She and Wallace died later at a hospital. Bates was struck in the back of the head and died in the back seat, Connick's office said.
“You can conclude by the evidence they were killed by ambush,” Assistant District Attorney Doug Freese told jurors.
Woods ran north on South Laurel, crossing a drainage canal along Airline Drive, and fled in the direction of his neighborhood just north of Airline Drive at David Drive, according to testimony.
A combination of witness interviews and surveillance video led Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office Detective Joe Waguespack to identify Woods as the killer.
Woods' public defenders argued that Wallace previously had tried to rob an elderly woman, using a weapon, and that the woman’s great-grandson committed the murders in retaliation, according to the DA's Office.
Under state law, Woods will receive a mandatory life term in prison when he is sentenced Dec. 3 by Judge Donnie Rowan of 24th Judicial District Court in Gretna.
Under a law approved overwhelmingly by Louisiana voters on Tuesday, such split verdicts will not be legal in future cases; juries will be required to come to unanimous decisions or declare themselves deadlocked. The new law will apply to trials arising from crimes committed after Jan. 1, 2019.