A Mississippi man drove into New Orleans with his girlfriend and their son a little more than a year ago and stole drugs from his dealer, according to police.
The dealer then sped after Stephan Raby and rammed Raby's car into a tree, causing the vehicle to ignite and killing the girlfriend, Mary Palmer, investigators wrote in court records that provide the fullest narrative yet of an Oct. 26, 2017, wreck in the Desire neighborhood.
Police jailed Raby, 33, on Jan. 4 on a count of cruelty to a juvenile in connection with the presence of his son, who was 4 on the night of what authorities believe was a drug deal that went very wrong.
A woman has died in a hit-and-run crash in the Desire area Thursday evening, which occurred after it appeared the vehicle was being chased, Ne…
It is not clear whether detectives have identified the dealer or whether they arrested Raby in hopes of pressuring him to name the dealer.
Palmer’s death occurred after Raby drove her and their child from Picayune, Mississippi, to New Orleans to buy unspecified drugs from a dealer he knew, investigators allege. Police suspect Raby ultimately stole the drugs from the dealer and fled with his family.
The dealer chased Raby, hit his vehicle and sent it into the neutral ground at Almonaster Boulevard and Louisa Street. Raby’s car hit a tree, and his son was tossed out of the vehicle, police said in court records obtained on Wednesday.
The vehicle became engulfed in flames. Passing drivers helped get Raby out of the car, but they couldn’t remove Palmer, who died. Firefighters later doused the blaze and pulled Palmer’s charred body from the car.
Both Raby and his son were taken to a hospital in stable condition, according to police.
Police said the hospital staff later found a hypodermic needle on Raby.
Raby allegedly told Detective Joseph Jefferson that he worked in the New Orleans area and didn’t know why someone would crash into his car. But later, through witness interviews and a Crimestoppers tip, Jefferson learned that Raby had confessed to people in Mississippi that the deadly chased occurred after he took drugs from his dealer without paying.
Raby allegedly also mentioned his dealer’s name and described the cars involved in the crash.
Jefferson obtained a warrant in August to arrest Raby. After Raby was booked in New Orleans, he was released on his own recognizance and ordered to return to court for a hearing set for Feb. 1.
Louisiana law considers bringing a child to a drug deal as cruelty to a juvenile, but it is not included in a list of crimes for which recognizance bonds are prohibited. Cruelty to a juvenile convictions can result in up to 10 years in prison.
Staff writer Matt Sledge contributed to this report.