A New Orleans judge sentenced a man to 30 years in prison Wednesday for killing a woman whose body was left under the Gentilly side of the Interstate 10 high-rise bridge.
Criminal District Court Judge Arthur Hunter rejected a request from Anthony Eugene III, 30, to withdraw his guilty plea before handing him the sentence. Eugene pleaded guilty to manslaughter in November.
Eugene and Peter Grandpre Jr., 31, were accused of the fatal shooting of 23-year-old Rebecca DeMuth. Her body was found under the bridge on July 29, 2014. Police said her corpse had been left in an overgrown area near the France Road overpass.
DeMuth’s mother said the killing devastated her family.
“The impact that this has made on our family is one that truly no words can express,” Kathy DeMuth said Thursday in court. “I just want you all to know the impact and ramifications of this. It is hard, and I’m only sitting here by the grace of God.”
Eugene, who is already serving a 20-year sentence on a separate charge of possession with intent to distribute heroin, attempted in November to withdraw his guilty plea in DeMuth's killing.
Clad in a blue shirt from the Dixon Correctional Institute and blue jeans, Eugene did not speak in court Thursday.
His defense attorney, Michael Kennedy, argued that Eugene was blindsided by hasty negotiations to reach an agreed-upon sentence of 30 years. However, Assistant District Attorney Andre Gaudin Jr. said Eugene had plenty of time to contemplate his sentence — and that the law didn’t allow him to change his mind because he decided he didn't like it.
Hunter denied the request to withdraw the plea, offering no explanation.
DeMuth’s mother and twin brother both addressed the court after Hunter’s decision. Kathy DeMuth said she had pressed to make sure that Eugene would receive a lengthy sentence to prevent him from killing again.
Under questioning from the judge, she said she agreed with the sentence that prosecutors secured through the plea agreement.
Rebecca DeMuth’s twin brother, Joshua, said he had suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder, depression and night terrors since his sister’s death.
“Sometimes I hear the name Rebecca, and it’s not even referring to my sister, but the first image I see in my head is not my twin sister, it’s something gruesome,” he said.
Since her death he has attended group therapy sessions with other relatives of homicide victims to find comfort, he said.
“There are no perfect people in this world,” he said, but he added that it was “inconceivable” to him that his sister died the way she did.
Rebecca DeMuth attended high school at Crescent City Christian School and ran track at Cleary Playground, according to an obituary.
Two months before her death, the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office vice squad arrested her and Eugene in a Metairie apartment. Eugene told deputies that she was in the apartment to have sex with Eugene in exchange for heroin, an arrest report said.
Grandpre, Eugene's co-defendant, has yet to go to trial. His next court date is Jan. 15.