It took a Jefferson Parish jury of five men and seven women just over two hours Friday to find Adam Littleton guilty of second-degree murder in the death of Jasilas Wright, whose body parts were found strewn along Interstate 10 in Metairie in June 2015.
Littleton, who will automatically receive a life sentence on Aug. 22, began sobbing after the verdict was read, uttered an expletive and protested that he has a mother and a brother.
“I swear to God I ain’t killed nobody, man,” he said, before being admonished by Judge Lee Faulkner of 24th Judicial District Court in Gretna.
Littleton buried his face in his hands and sobbed, later wiping away tears with his blue blazer as the jury filed out.
As he walked out of the courtroom, Wright’s mother, Nedra, apparently fainted and collapsed to the floor. She regained consciousness a few minutes later and got to her feet but was taken to a hospital.
The jury reached its verdict at 3 p.m., shortly after asking the judge to read again the laws defining second-degree kidnapping, second-degree murder, manslaughter and negligent homicide.
The jurors could have found Littleton guilty of one of the latter two lesser charges in Wright’s death, but ultimately they found him guilty as charged of murder.
He was not charged with kidnapping; that charge would have to have been brought in Orleans Parish.
However, the jurors had to determine whether Littleton took Wright against her will, which would make him legally responsible for her death, even if she threw herself from the moving vehicle.
Prosecutors said that in the early morning hours of June 10, 2015, Littleton forced Wright into his car in front of the Bourbon Street strip club where she worked and started driving her to Texas so she could earn money for him as a prostitute.
A woman dating Littleton's half-brother in Texas testified that she overheard him say that he saw Wright get run over by two cars in his rear-view mirror but that he couldn’t call the police because he had forced her into the car.
The defense claimed that Littleton was not Wright’s pimp, that he did not kidnap her and that he had let her out of the car after a fight. He was, his lawyers said, simply a young man distraught over his girlfriend’s death.
During closing arguments, Assistant District Attorneys Kellie Rish and Megan Gorman told jurors the evidence showed Littleton had told many witnesses that Wright had jumped from his vehicle, and that one of those conversations had been picked up by body cameras worn by New Orleans police.
Gorman reminded jurors of testimony that there was no shoulder at the point on the highway where Littleton would have let her out, and that Wright's belongings — her shoes, phone and pieces of her watch — were found scattered across the roadway, suggesting she was hit near the center lane rather than off to the side.
Gorman told jurors it didn’t matter whether Littleton wasn’t a very sophisticated or clever pimp or had indicated in text messages that he wanted to get out of “the game.”
She said evidence showed he had taken out ads for “dates” with Wright on Backpage.com, had paid for her hotel rooms with his credit card and had deposited her money into an account to which only he had access.
Gorman said Littleton had forced Wright into his car the morning of her death because his bank account was overdrawn, and he planned on putting her to work again in Texas, which she didn’t want to do.
“He was not taking her home that day, he was taking her back to Texas,” Gorman said, adding that her decision to jump from the car was in itself evidence she had been taken against her will.
“She told you from her grave that she was not there willingly,” Gorman said. “She jumped, and that speaks volumes. A person who is where they want to be does not jump from a moving vehicle.”
Defense attorney Nandi Campbell, however, said most of the state’s case against Littleton was spent painting him as a sex trafficker, which she called a ploy to “muddy the waters and make you so disgusted that you would send him to Angola for life.”
She said there was plenty of evidence to counter the state’s claim that Wright was an isolated victim under Littleton’s control, noting a text message from Wright to Littleton berating him for not having his act together during a prior trip to Texas.
“The notion that Adam turned her into this person is false,” Campbell said, referring to evidence that Wright had worked as a prostitute on her own. Far from being under his control, Wright “was doing whatever she wanted to do, and it wasn’t about Adam,” she said.
Campbell also argued it made no sense that Wright’s phone would be found before the first blood stain on I-10 in perfect working order and without a scratch had she jumped out of the car with it.
Campbell argued that friends who testified for the state did so dishonestly and with ulterior motives, zeroing in on the testimony of Stephanie Williams in particular.
Williams, who was dating Littleton’s half-brother in Dallas at the time, testified that she overheard Littleton telling him that he couldn’t call the police because he was responsible for her death, having forced her to get into the car.
Campbell noted inconsistencies in Williams' recounting of the conversation and argued she had reason to lie because she wanted Littleton out of her house.
Prosecutor Rish, however, told jurors that Williams is still friendly with Littleton’s family and is still dating his half-brother.
She said Wright had a 9-month-old child and was only trying to make ends meet. She said Littleton convinced her he loved her but was controlling her and taking her money.
“What this case is about is that Jasilas Wright was a brand-new adult in a world where she had to provide for a brand-new baby. She started a brand-new job that unfortunately introduced her to some new people,” she said.
“And when Jasilas got there, Adam promised her heaven and she followed him to hell.”