NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Three teenagers have been indicted on first-degree murder charges in the May 8 slaying of a New Orleans woman during a botched car burglary, District Attorney Leon Cannizzaro said Thursday.
The victim was Zelda Townsend, 63. Authorities said she and her husband, Danny, came out of their home to investigate a car alarm and found a suspect rummaging through their car. Prosecutors said the suspect fired at them. Danny Townsend returned fire and was wounded. The three also face attempted first-degree murder charges in the wounding of Danny Townsend. Two of them also face charges in a similar, nonfatal shooting during a car burglary on May 7.
The crimes and arrests of the suspects came amid growing concern in the city over juvenile crime. In June, the city announced the resumption of curfew enforcement for teens ages 16 and younger.
Indicted was an 18-year-old, woman, Byrielle Hebert, and two males, ages 17 and 16. All face trial as adults and life sentences if convicted as charged on noncapital first-degree murder charges in Zelda Townsend’s death.
Hebert would face life without possibility of parole. The two younger suspects, if convicted, would be entitled to a hearing where a judge would have the option of granting parole eligibility after 25 years served.
Hebert and the 17-year-old also face attempted murder charges in the earlier shooting.
Cannizzaro announced the indictments at a news conference where he touted proposals he put forth May 16 to get tougher on juvenile crime.
He said juvenile court judges and the city have implemented some of the suggestions, including curfew enforcement and a tougher stance by juvenile court judges on repeat offenders.
“Since these and other measures were implemented around June 1, we have finally started to see a decline in violent juvenile offenses,” Cannizzaro said.