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Crime3 teens indicted on murder charges following deadly New Orleans car burglary

22:01  01 august  2019
22:01  01 august  2019 Source:   wwltv.com

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NEW ORLEANS — An Orleans Parish grand jury has indicted three New Orleans teenagers on murder charges after a botched car burglary led to the shooting death of a woman in Mid City earlier this year. District Attorney Leon Cannizzaro's office said 17-year-old Emanuel Pipkins

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

An Orleans Parish grand jury has indicted three New Orleans teenagers on murder charges after a botched car burglary led to the shooting death of a woman in Mid City earlier this year.

3 teens indicted on murder charges following deadly New Orleans car burglary© Orleans Parish District Attorney's Office District Attorney Leon Cannizzaro's office on Thursday (Aug. 1) announced it has secured non-capital first-degree murder indictments against three New Orleans teens involved in the killing of Zelda Townsend (pictured at left) during a botched May 8 car burglary in Mid-City

District Attorney Leon Cannizzaro's office said 17-year-old Emanuel Pipkins, 18-year-old Byrielle Hebert and 16-year-old Alvin Robinson were indicted on first-degree murder charges Wednesday. They were also charged with attempted first-degree murder.

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Investigators say the trio were responsible for the death of 63-year-old Zelda Townsend in May.

While the indictment against the three suspects alleges Pipkins fired the fatal shots, Cannizzaro said the other two members of his crew were being charged with the same crimes because there was strong evidence they aided and encouraged him to shoot Townsend.

"Somebody shouted from that vehicle to shoot," NOPD Chief Shaun Ferguson said during a previous press conference about the investigation. "There was an exchange of gunfire between the suspect who was in the victims' vehicle and the male victim."

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Oliver also was indicted on four charges of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon by a public official related to the other four teens who were in the car . The Dallas County Sheriff's Department charged Oliver with murder in May, less than a week after the shooting.

Cannizzaro's office announced the indictment at a news conference Thursday.

Authorities say Zelda and her husband Danny Townsend were shot at after they discovered Pipkins rummaging through their car in the 2700 block of Cleveland Avenue. Danny was shot in the arm, but Zelda was shot in the head and died at the scene.

The grand jury also charged Pipkins and Hebert on attempted first-degree murder charges for a similar incident that happened the previous night.

"Further investigation has linked the same perpetrators to a similar crime," Cannizzaro said. "Ballistics, DNA and other physical evidence have linked Pipkins and Herbert to a Lakeview incident."

In that incident, two people approached the suspects while they were committing a car burglary, Cannizzaro said. Spooked, the suspects fired at the victims with the same gun used in the Townsend murder.

"Luckily, these other victims were not struck by gunfire," he said. "But the incidents show a pattern for this crew where they use stolen vehicles," to commit auto burglaries.

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Cannizzaro said they showed "no hesitancy to shoot their way out when cornered."

Pipkins, the alleged shooter, already had a criminal record, police said. One month before the shooting, NOPD officials said they arrested Pipkins for auto burglary. Prior to that, Ferguson said, he had an aggravated assault charge.

"The tragic murder of Zelda Townsend, a 63-year-old wife and grandmother, was not simply part of some one-off, youthful indiscretion," Cannizzaro said in a statement before the press conference. "This investigation has revealed that these teens were engaged in a deliberate, planned series of car burglaries in which they used stolen cars and were willing to shoot people without hesitation once they were cornered."

Because prosecutors are seeking non-capital first-degree murder convictions, the three face a life sentence without the possibility of parole if convicted.

Because of their ages at the time of the shooting, Pipkins and Robinson would be entitled to a sentencing hearing where the trial court could give them a reduced sentence of life with the eligibility of parole after 25 years. If convicted, Hebert would not be eligible for parole.

A fourth person, whom prosecutors believe was a "co-conspirator," was charged with conspiracy to commit simple car burglary, but because that crime is not considered violent and the suspect is a minor, that person's identity is shielded by state law.

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