Terrance Leonard

Terrance Leonard

A man accused of fatally bludgeoning a woman and two children with a hammer last week is facing an additional count of murder after a third child wounded in the attack was taken off life support, Jefferson Parish authorities said Wednesday.

The body of Nashawna Riley, 14, was turned over to the Jefferson Parish Coroner's Office on Wednesday morning, Coroner Gerry Cvitanovich said.

She had been critically injured in the brutal assault a week earlier that killed her mother, Kristina Riley, 32; her brother Ayden Riley, 10; and her cousin De’ryona Encalade, 9.

A fifth victim who was bludgeoned — Kristina Riley’s 12-year-old daughter, Adrianna Riley — remained in recovery at a hospital Wednesday. 

Nashawna Riley.jpg

Nashawna Riley, 14

Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office deputies had quickly booked Terrance Leonard, Kristina Riley’s 33-year-old boyfriend, on three counts of first-degree murder and two counts of attempted first-degree murder. The latest death means one of the attempted murder counts will be upgraded to first-degree murder. 

A local television station reported Nashawna Riley’s death had been pronounced Monday night, citing family members as the source of the information. Cvitanovich said the girl had been declared brain-dead Monday but his office couldn't release information until after the girl had been removed from life support following organ donation.

According to the Sheriff’s Office, investigators believe Leonard killed the four children by bludgeoning them with a hammer while they slept in their beds while they slept at his and Kristina Riley’s apartment in the 900 block of West Monterey Court, killing two of them and leaving the other two badly injured.

He then fatally attacked Kristina Riley when she arrived home about 2 a.m., authorities said.

Leonard returned to the apartment with his unsuspecting mother later that day. The mother called 911 as Leonard pretended to discover the victims alongside her, according to authorities and a recording of the call.

Sheriff's Office deputies said Leonard admitted to the slayings and claimed to have been smoking crack cocaine. The Sheriff’s Office hasn’t discussed any other potential motive for the slayings.

Leonard remains in jail with no bail set on the murder counts. He faces mandatory life imprisonment or death if eventually convicted of first-degree murder.

Leonard has a lengthy history of prior drug arrests and stints in jail, but nothing like the mass killing which authorities allege he carried out.

Nashawna Riley had been a student at West Jefferson High School and formed part of the New Orleans Warriors dance team in 2015-16.

Warriors coach James Young said she was well liked by her teammates and excelled at routines quickly, becoming a co-captain in her first year as the team danced in the Martin Luther King Day parade and with Carnival krewes including Choctaw, Athena and Little Rascals.

“She caught on real fast,” he said. “She was fun to be around.”

Young said the community is still rallying around the family and he is trying to put together a “can-shake” fundraiser among dance team members this weekend to benefit her family. 

Staff writer Chad Calder contributed to this report. 


Follow Ramon Antonio Vargas on Twitter, @RVargasAdvocate.

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