New Orleans Police on Friday announced the arrests of 34 people during a holiday roundup, including a man sought in connection to the shooting death of a college wrestler earlier this month.
Cornelius Boutte, 21, was arrested Dec. 11 on a charge of second-degree murder in connection to the murder of Taibe Coleman, who police say was killed while participating in a botched armed robbery on Dec. 4.
The roundup, which took place over a seven-day period, was a combined effort by NOPD officers, FBI and members of the U.S. Marshals. Included in the slew of arrests were five people booked on second-degree murder charges, including a woman who police say acted together with Boutte in Coleman’s killing.
Records show Porsha Smith, 26, was jailed the same day as Boutte, after a witness told police that she, Coleman and Boutte had teamed up to rob him.
Coleman, 22, was a former wrestler at East Ascension High School in Gonzales and Arkansans Baptist College, and was found gunned down in the 4900 block of Major Drive in New Orleans East.
During the investigation into Coleman’s death, police learned he had last been seen with his friend Boutte before he died. A man who later identified himself as the victim in the incident told police that on the night Coleman was killed, he had given a girl named “Daysha” a ride home and said she had set him up to be robbed by Boutte and Coleman.
While the victim and “Daysha” were talking, the victim said two men with guns opened the doors on both sides of his car. According to the police report, “Daysha” got out of the car and walked towards the gunmen, after which the victim said he heard gunfire and noticed he had been shot in the leg.
The victim then told police he got out of his car and fired back at the gunmen, apparently killing Coleman, before driving himself to the hospital.
About the same time that the victim got to University Medical Center, police said Boutte arrived at New Orleans East Hospital, suffering from a gunshot wound to the left shoulder.
Detectives learned that a woman who matched the physical description of "Daysha" had signed Boutte in to the hospital and immediately left. When police found "Daysha," they said, they discovered her real name is Porsha Smith, and the man who was shot in the leg later identified her as the woman who set him up in a photographic lineup.
It was unclear whether authorities arrested Smith or Boutte first, but police said Boutte was picked up in the 1900 block of Brookhaven Avenue in Gonzales while Smith was arrested in the 5100 block of Bunday Road in New Orleans East. Both Smith and Boutte are facing charges of second-degree murder.
Friday's roundup included suspects arrested in 59 different offenses ranging from homicide, sexual assaults, armed robbery and aggravated battery, NOPD Chief Michael Harrison said during a press conference.
Harrison touted the roundup as a successful year-end push and said the arrests were the result of a collective effort that included both law enforcement agencies as well as citizen participation and Crimestoppers tips.
“This task force was charged with getting a lot of bad actors off the streets of New Orleans,” Harrison said. “Make no mistake – these are dangerous individuals who have proven to have no respect for the law and have no respect for human life.”
Also arrested on murder charges were Tyrone Myles, 23, and Dytrell Mcewen, 19, who police say are connected to the Nov. 26 shooting death of 23-year-old Antoine Brumfield. U.S. Marshals also arrested Eddie Salvant, 32, who is one of three people suspected of taking part in a Nov. 22 killing of Everette Burns in Jefferson Parish.
In the state of Louisiana, second-degree murder carries a mandatory life sentence upon conviction.
Also included in the arrest were five people booked on charges of armed robbery, two suspects booked on simple robbery, six arrested in connection to reported aggravated rapes or sexual batteries, and five booked on charges of either aggravated battery or aggravated assault with a firearm.
In other cases handled recently by local authorities:
• Man sought on aggravated battery charges after fracturing man's skull
New Orleans Police are searching for a man wanted on aggravated battery charges after they say he struck a man in the head with a brick and fractured his skull.
Police said Joshua Beach, 34, is wanted in connection to the incident which took place in the 1100 block of Margaret Place. Police did not say what day the alleged assault took place.
The victim in the incident told police that he was sitting in the park about 5 p.m. when he was approached by Beach. Beach accused the victim of being in possession of his lighter, police said, after which Beach left and returned with a brick wrapped in fabric. The victim told police that Beach struck him over the head with the brick, and caused a fracture to his skull.
Beach allegedly fled the location southbound on Calliope Street toward Magazine Street. Police said Beach is described as having a thin build with red hair, a red beard and was wearing broken glasses.
• The New Orleans Police Department is searching for a man who allegedly stole packages from a porch in the 2800 block of Baronne Street Monday.
Surveillance footage captured by the resident shows a man walking up to the victim's porch, placing the packages in a large Christmas bag with red flowers and green leaves against a white background and leaving on a dark-colored bicycle.
The man is described as wearing a black-and-white design hoodie, dark shirt, camouflage-print pants and a neon green or yellow backpack.
• A 71-year-old man was involved in an argument with a woman in the Tulane area when he was stabbed, police said.
The incident occurred about 3:03 p.m. in the 200 block of N. Roman Street, according to a report from New Orleans police.
During the argument, the report says, the woman armed herself with a kitchen knife and stabbed the man. He was transported to an area hospital for treatment.
• A 36-year-old woman told police she was getting into her car in the Bywater when an armed man approached and stole it. The incident occurred about 4:22 p.m. near the intersection of Poland Avenue and N. Villere Street. The woman told police she was also pushed before the man fled in an unknown direction.
• A woman reported being sexually assaulted by an unknown man in the Central Business District Wednesday evening. The incident occurred about 7:54 p.m. in the 1000 block of St. Charles Avenue. New Orleans jail records showed Anthony Blackston, 41, was booked with a count of attempted aggravated rape in the case.
• A Texas man on Friday pleaded guilty in New Orleans federal court to his part in a cocaine trafficking scheme.
Victor Esquivel, 27, pleaded guilty to conspiring to distribute and possession with the intent to distribute five kilograms or more of cocaine hydrochloride, according to a news release from acting U.S. Attorney Duane A Evans.
Court records indicate that Esquivel, and his co-defendants Roel Rangel and Kevin Decuir, conspired to distribute approximately 28 kilograms of cocaine hydrochloride. Rangel has already pleaded guilty and is scheduled to be sentenced on Feb. 28.
Esquivel faces a sentence of at least 10 years and up to life, and a fine of up to $10,000,000. He will be sentenced on Mar. 28, 2018.
• A Gretna man was sentenced to 22 months in prison after pleading guilty to trafficking in counterfeit cigarettes, according to a statement from acting U.S. Attorney Duane A. Evans.
On Thursday, U.S. District Judge Kurt D. Engelhardt sentenced Jadallah Saed, 31, and ordered him to pay restitution of $456,611.
• Cornell Pendelton, 51, of Gentilly, on Thursday received a prison sentence of 10 years and 1 month as well as two years of supervised release for his role laundering money on behalf of heroin dealers in New Orleans, Evans' office said.
U.S. District Judge Jane Triche Milazzo sentenced Pendleton, who was found guilty at a trial.
• Roman Williams, 36, of Pensacola, Florida, received a prison sentence of 3 years and 8 months Thursday after previously pleading guilty to falsifying federal student loan applications to help pay for classes offered by Tulane University, Evans' office said.
Prosecutors had charged Williams with theft of government funds and aggravated identity theft, and he was ordered to pay restitution by U.S. District Judge Eldon Fallon. He was accused of using other people's personal information to receive more than $1,000 in federal education assistance.
• Evans' office on Thursday said Luis Alberto Tejeda Quiroz, 32, of Mexico, pleaded guilty to illegal use of a social security number, false claim to U.S. citizenship, illegally re-entering the country after previously having been deported and identity theft. He faces up to 10 years in prison for illegal re-entry alone.