SHREVEPORT, La. (KTAL/KMSS) — A Shreveport woman accused of stabbing a man and burning his body in late-2018 pleaded guilty to manslaughter in court Tuesday.
According to the Caddo Parish District Attorney’s Office, 22-year-old Sarah Renee Ritter was originally was charged with second-degree murder, which carries a mandatory life sentence at hard labor without benefit of probation, parole or reduction of sentence. After she pleaded to the lesser charge, she was sentenced by District Judge Charles Tutt to 40 years in prison. The sentence was meted out with the agreement of the victim’s family.
The district attorney’s office says during the hours between late November 30, 2018 and early December 1, 2018, Ritter and her younger sister met with the victim, 34-year-old Tawfik Gawbahy at their home in the 2800 block of Penick Street in Shreveport. At some time during the night, Ritter and Gawbahy sat and talked in her bedroom. At one point, Gawbahy walked out of the bedroom with Ritter following him with a knife held behind her back. She then stabbed Gawbahy multiple times. Ritter’s juvenile sister then began to stab him as well. Gawbahy ran downstairs to escape, with Ritter chasing him. She caught up with him and continued to stab him until he died.
Ritter reportedly called a friend to her home to help dispose of the body, which they took by truck to 3100 block of Murphy Street, where they poured gasoline on the body and set it on fire. She then drove Gawbahy’s truck to Florida, picked up her brother and drove back to Shreveport where they burned the truck on Dupont Street.
Early December 1, 2018, residents of the 3100 block of Murphy Street who saw smoke and fire called the Shreveport Fire Department. Firefighters discovered Gawbahy’s body and called police. Witness testimony led authorities to identify Ritter as a lead suspect and executed a search warrant of her residence, where they discovered blood on stairs and on a pair of jeans. The blood was tested and a DNA match was established with the victim. Another search warrant on her phone showed her proximity to the 3100 block of Murphy at the time Gawbahy’s body was burned. The phone also showed her travel to Florida in the days following the slaying.
Ritter’s siblings, both juveniles at the time of the offence, pleaded guilty to their involvement in Caddo Juvenile Court. The friend Ritter called to help dispose of the body, Kelvin Braziel, was charged with accessory after-the-fact to second-degree murder. His trial is set for October 26, 2020.
Ritter was prosecuted by Assistant District Attorney Kodie K. Smith. She was defended by Michael Enright with the Caddo Parish Public Defender’s office.