Welcome to April! I want to begin this column with a congratulations to my longtime friend Henry Whitehorn Sr., for his victory in the Caddo Parish Sheriff race.  I know the Sheriff-elect was by far the most qualified and best person for this office.  I join all local heads of law enforcement in looking  forward to working with this sheriff who seeks not publicity but to problem-solve together.


The Caddo Parish Criminal Justice Task Force report – which I encourage you all to read – released in late 2023 by the Department of Justice’s Crime and Justice Institute, analyzed and relayed suggestions to reduce overcrowding at Caddo Correctional Center.  In short, the report pointed out that bail amounts have tripled (or “grew by 259 percent”) from the years 2012 to 2022.  “While fewer people are coming into the CCC in recent years,” the report stated, “the number of people coming into the jail on pretrial status has been outpacing the number of people leaving.” The report recommended, among several other recommendations, creating “an alternative to detention  for drug users,” scheduling amnesty weeks  for the public to clear warrants, establishing  a mental health court and “establishing a non-financial mechanism for judges to release individuals from jail” – what activists call “cashless bail.”


The report pointed out that criminal  case processing from beginning to end  lengthened by 144 percent during this time frame as well.   The report cited as a major cause for the slower case processing  to be “delays in receiving discovery” and  “documents such as police reports or digital evidence such as bodycam footage (that) were not always provided” as the cases move to court in reasonable periods of time.  Thus modern law enforcement methods you now expect in each case, such as police car dashcams and officer bodycams, and the downloading and retrieval of this enormous amount of footage (the report noted that SPD and CPSO collectively received almost 206,000 calls for service requiring police response in 2021), along with the officer shortage causing enormous amount of duties placed on our law enforcement officers,  has become a major reason for the slowdown of criminal court case processing.   As the report states “stakeholder interviews indicate that one factor contributing to delayed case processing and corresponding length of stay for those awaiting trial at CCC is delays in receiving digital evidence in criminal cases.”


I had an opportunity to speak out on KEEL Radio’s Mike and McCarty Show, refuting baseless allegations on KEEL  from the criminal defense attorney who was running for sheriff about my office along with sheriff-elect Whitehorn – who has 40 years of law enforcement experience to his zero –   being “soft on crime.”   Readers can check the facts on Louisiana Supreme Court reports, our social  media sites, and in press releases from our office.   In 2023, with five Caddo Parish judges (East Baton Rouge  Parish has nine), we tried and secured convictions in approximately 166 felon in possession of firearms cases.  We had over 5,000 criminal  convictions.  We conducted 60 jury trials.  We transferred 22 juveniles to be tried as an adult.  Truancy cases went from 445 in 2021 and 465 in 2022, down to 355 in 2023.   You can hear the full interview at the 710keel.com podcast link.   Thank you to Erin and Mike , and guest co-host Louis Avallone for the discussion.


Sheriff-elect Whitehorn, Shreveport Police Chief Wayne Smith, District Public Defender Michelle Andrepont and I promise to work together to figure out the best ways to eliminate this quagmire, and any other bottleneck that delays our local court system. That is my promise to you.



I closed out March with a visit to the Spring Community Fair on Good Friday at Willow Chute Baptist Church. The community and surrounding area showed up to share in 100 Easter baskets, get free hair cuts and claim Easter clothing. There also were games, bounce houses for youngsters, pony rides and bingo.


I also served as a deputy for the Easter Bunny, working with Assistant District Attorney Brittany Arvie to deliver Easter eggs to kindergarten students at Caddo Heights Elementary School.


March is traditionally Women’s History Month, that observance designated by Congress to recognize and celebrate the contributions of women throughout history. Our office has used its social media to honor the service of the many talented and professional women in service in our office.


Our very own Assistant District Attorney Senae Hall appeared on the cover of SB Magazine, and other female  Assistant District Attorneys made the ranks of the magazine’s Top Attorneys for 2023: Brittany Bass Arvie, Mekisha Smith Creal, Senae Hall, Courtney Ray and Victoria Washington.  Two of our male ADAs also made the list: Kodie K. Smith and Sam Crichton.  Congratulations to all!



Our Caddo DA Leadership Academy Scholars, parish high school students, journeyed to Memphis, Tenn., during Spring Break for enrichment and fun. The scholars got a chance to visit the National Civil Rights Museum, attend a live NBA game and visit the zoo.


I thank our partner sponsors: Young Professional Entertainment, LLC; Wimbley Construction; Joshua K. Williams Attorney at Law; Ronald J. Miciotto, LLC; Washington & Wells Attorneys at Law; Joshua Clayton Attorney at Law; Ron Christopher Stamps, LLC Attorneys at Law; KeyPoint Leadership; and Liberty CME Church.


Here’s what our office did in March:


* A Shreveport man who shot his former girlfriend 20 times in June 2021 was found guilty of second-degree murder March 28 in Caddo District Court.


It took less than a half-hour of deliberation for the seven-man, five-woman jury in District Judge Donald E. Hathaway Jr.’s court to return its unanimous verdict against Benjamin D. Franklin, 26.


Testimony and evidence admitted at trial proved that Franklin entered the apartment of his former girlfriend in the 9000 block of Mansfield Road on June 3, 2021, and shot her 20 times. He did this to prevent her from identifying him as the perpetrator of an earlier armed robbery of a convenience store. Franklin also stole the victim’s personal property to pawn in the days following the murder. A search of Franklin’s residence led to police recovering the murder weapon and personal property of the victim that Franklin tried to destroy. Franklin pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity, a defense countered by a state medical expert.


Assistant District Attorneys Jason Waltman and Christopher Bowman prosecuted the case. Lesley Kelly defended Franklin.


At sentencing May 14, 2024, Franklin faces a mandatory life prison sentence.


The case was docket No. 383356.


* A Shreveport man whose felony history prevents him from owning or possessing a weapon was convicted March 27.


Robert Earl Green, 53, was found guilty as charged through a unanimous decision by the 10-woman, two-man jury in District Judge Ramona Emanuel’s court. Deliberations lasted about two hours.


Through evidence and testimony from police investigators and an officer with state Probation and Parole, jurors learned that on October 20, 2021, at a residence in the 2300 block of Portland Avenue, Green was in possession of a .22-caliber revolver and that he has a previous felony conviction of second-degree battery, a crime of violence.


When Green returns to court May 13, 2024, he faces a prison term of at least five and up to 20 years without benefit of probation, parole or suspension of sentence and a possible fine of at last $1,000 and up to $5,000.


Green was prosecuted by Assistant District Attorneys Fernando Grider and Senae D. Hall. He was defended by Sean Landry.


The case was docket No. 385927.


* A man convicted in early March of killing his cousin’s boyfriend and then threatening witnesses in the case, was sentenced to life in prison in Caddo District Court March 20. The term must be served without the benefit of parole, probation or suspension of sentence.


Dana Combs, 27, found guilty as charged of second-degree murder March 7, received the mandatory sentence from District Judge Michael Pitman for his slaying of Colvin Wayne Germany, 39, on April 24, 2021.


Germany and his girlfriend had an argument after she found messages from another woman on his phone. After the two arrived home, Germany begin packing his belongings, and allegedly took the girlfriend’s tax refund money. The girlfriend told Combs and the other cousins that Germany had taken her money. Combs, along with others, went to Germany’s house in the 4100 Block of Theo Street and waited by a vacant house across the street, armed with guns and lead pipes. When Germany arrived to pick up the remainder of his belongings, Combs approached him, shooting him several times, killing him.


Germany was hit by bullets in the side of his neck, back and hands. A pathologist testified that the victim’s hands were likely on the steering wheel when he was shot. Combs then pulled Germany out of the car and drove away.


Throughout the course of the case, Combs urged his brother who had witnessed the shooting, as well as his cousins and Germany’s girlfriend, to not show up to court and recant their testimonies. He also sent threatening messages.


Combs took the stand, claiming self-defense, testifying that Germany was going for a gun when he rushed the vehicle. A detective testified in rebuttal that his statements were inconsistent with evidence and Comb’s behavior leading up to trial.


He was prosecuted by Assistant District Attorneys Sam Crichton and Christopher Bowman. He was defended by Michael Enright and Stephen Folk-Cruthirds.


* Deangelo Whitaker, 23, convicted in late February in connection with a second-degree murder committed with two other men in May 2021, received a mandatory life prison term in Caddo District Court March 12.


District Judge Ramona Emanuel handed down the sentence, which must be served  without the benefit of probation, parole or suspension of sentence.


Whitaker was convicted February 29 of the May 2, 2021 slaying of Emanual Emon King, 19, who attended a party with his slayers at the Lake Villa Apartments in the 3700 block of Richmond Avenue. During the course of the evening, shots were fired. Partygoers fled upstairs for cover, while King took cover.  When the shooting stopped, the three gunmen entered the apartment, confronting King and, shooting him multiple times.


King died at the scene. Whitaker and the other gunmen fled but later were arrested.


Whitaker was prosecuted by Assistant District Attorneys Kodie K. Smith  and Bill Edwards. He was defended by Katherine Ferguson and Royal Alexander.


Whitaker’s partners in crime Anderito Smith Jr. and Zykeyland Johnson both pleaded guilty to manslaughter several days before Whitaker’s conviction. Smith was sentenced to 40 years at hard labor, while Johnson was sentenced to 20 years.


The case was docket No. 398588.


* A Shreveport man who shot and critically injured a casual acquaintance five years ago was found guilty March 6.


The four-woman, eight-man jury in District Judge John D. Mosely Jr.’s court deliberated about an hour before returning its unanimous verdict of guilty as charged for Stevie Norris Henderson, 46. Henderson had been charged with attempted second-degree murder and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.


Through evidence and witness testimony, the jury determined that on February 21, 2019, the victim heard a knock at his door and saw Henderson, who he previously met through a mutual friend. Henderson asked to use the phone and when the victim turned around and reached down to pick up his phone, he was shot in the head by Henderson, who fled after taking an undisclosed amount of money from the victim s pockets.


When Henderson returns to court for sentencing April 23, he faces 10 to 50 years in prison without benefit of parole, probation, or suspension of sentence for the attempted murder conviction, and five to 20 years without the benefit of probation, parole or suspension of sentence and a fine from $1,000 to $5,000 for the weapons charge. Prior felonies date from 1995 to 2016.


Henderson was prosecuted by Assistant District Attorneys Kendra Joseph and Courtney Ray. He was defended by Sean Landry.


The case was docket No.  365097.


* A Baton Rouge man convicted late last year of rape must serve the rest of his natural life in prison, a Caddo District Judge ruled.


On March 5, Judge Ramona Emanuel sentenced Christopher McKnight, 42, to natural life without the benefit of parole, probation or suspension of sentence. He had been convicted September 13, 2023 in connection with a second-degree rape for which he had been arrested May 13, 2022.


Prior to sentencing, the state filed a fourth felony multiple offender bill of information detailing his extensive criminal history. The state used the last three convictions McKnight received — simple burglary of an inhabited dwelling and two counts of simple burglary, all from 2014, and the 2023 conviction — as the basis of the multiple billing. A five-year period had not lapse between the expiration of the maximum sentence on each of the previous felony convictions and the commission of this subsequent felony conviction.


McKnight was prosecuted by Assistant District Attorneys Brittany Arvie and Senae Hall. He was defended by Royal Alexander and Katherine Ferguson.


The case was docket No. 393736.


* A Shreveport man accused of drug and gun crimes pleaded guilty in Caddo District Court March 4, just as his trial was set to begin.


Christopher George Bernard, 52, pleaded guilty to possession with intent to distribute the Schedule II narcotic cocaine and to possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, having previously been convicted of Schedule II distribution in January 2016.


District Judge Erin Leigh Waddell Garrett sentenced Bernard to 20 years in prison on the first count and for the possession conviction to 20 years without benefit of probation, parole or suspension of sentence and a $1,000 fine converted to 200 days in jail.  The sentences were ordered to run concurrently with each other but consecutive to any other he is serving.


On November 15, 2022, Deputy John Berry and other deputies from the Caddo Parish Sheriff s office executed a search warrant at Bernard’s residence in the 4900 block of Haywood Place.  Upon executing the warrant, deputies recovered packaging material, digital scales and 171 individually packaged baggies of cocaine, along with a Beretta .40-caliber semiautomatic handgun.


Bernard was prosecuted by Assistant District Attorney Ross Owen. He was defended by Charles Parr.


The case was docket No. 392402.


* The Caddo Parish Grand Jury also returned murder and sex crime indictments March 28.


Rickey Tyrone Loyd, 30, was charged with second-degree murder in connection with the December 23, 2023 slaying of Patrick Shaw Jr. Shaw, 29, was shot in the chest during a fight outside a house party in the 1500 block of Oakdale Street. Loyd was booked into Caddo Correctional Center December 30, 2023, with bond for the slaying set at $5 million. The case is docket No. 399442.


Frankie Dwayne Wright, 37, was charged with first-degree rape. He  was booked into CCC December 11, 2023, with his bond set at $1 million. The case is docket No. 399167.


A third indictment was returned as a secret indictment. Due to the nature of the charges for this and Wright’s alleged sex crime no further details can be released.




Looking ahead, April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month, and our office is observing it with activities and programs, staring with wearing teal April 2. The color is a reminder of some grim statistics:


* There are 237,868 rape victims in the US every year.

* Someone is sexually assaulted every 2 minutes in the United States.

* For female rape survivors, 98.1 percent of the time a man was the perpetrator.

* For male rape survivors, 93 percent of the time, a man also was the perpetrator.

Out of every 100 rapes, only 40 are reported. Out of those, 10 lead to an arrest; eight are prosecuted; four will lead to a conviction, and only three rapists will spend a day in prison. Of the 100, 97 will get off scot-free.

Finally, by the time they turn 18, one in four girls will have been sexually victimized, as will one in six boys.


Our office got ahead of this, with some of our Assistant DAs and Victim Assistance Coordinators visiting the Gingerbread House to tour its Cara Center. That is where children who are suspected of being abused go for forensic exams. Centers such as this help our office prosecute cases and help victims, their families and care-givers get the help they need.


As I often say, “If you see something, say something.”    And if you suspect someone is being sexually or physically abused, please call the DAs of Northwest Louisiana’s Family Justice Center at 584-7171 and they will guide you to help.


At your service,


James E. Stewart, Sr.

Caddo Parish District Attorney