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November 30, 2018 - 12:00 am


In new indictment, suspect faces 3rd rape charge

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — A man already facing charges in rapes that occurred in the 1990s in New Orleans now faces a third charge.

District Attorney Leon Cannizzaro's office says 40-year-old Jamol Rickmon was indicted Thursday in a July 20, 1996 rape of a 24-year-old woman. The news release says prosecutors recently confirmed that a DNA sample from Rickmon linked him to biological evidence collected 22 years ago by crime lab technicians at the scene of the assault.

Rickmon was charged Thursday in a superseding indictment that maintains earlier charges in two other rape cases.

Those cases include assaults of a 23-year-old woman on July 29, 1996; and a 51-year-old woman on Jan. 31, 1997.

Rickmon has pleaded not guilty in those cases. His bond was increased from $2 million to $3 million Thursday.


5 get prison after 2012 military munition blast in Louisiana

SHREVEPORT, La. (AP) — A federal judge has ordered $34.8 million in restitution from a former owner of a company that committed what one prosecutor calls the nation's worst-ever dumping of military explosives. The case arose from a huge munitions blast in 2012.

David Alan Smith of Winchester, Kentucky, and four officials of Explo Systems Inc. were sentenced Thursday in Shreveport. Smith drew 4 years and 7 months in prison and rest between 2 and 5 years in prison. All five pleaded guilty earlier.

The now bankrupt company had an $8.7 million Army contract to demilitarize artillery charges at a Louisiana National Guard facility called Camp Minden, site of the blast.

U.S. Attorney David Joseph says the defendants used Camp Minden as the largest illegal dumping ground of military explosives in U.S. history.


Private prison ex-sergeant guilty in chemical spray cover-up

A former sergeant at a privately-run Louisiana prison has pleaded guilty to covering up an incident in which he and other guards used a chemical spray on five kneeling, handcuffed inmates.

Thirty-three-year-old Demario Shaffer was among five Richwood Correctional Center officers and guards indicted in March. Trial is scheduled April 15 for the others.

The U.S. Attorney's Office said in a news release Wednesday that Shaffer pleaded guilty Monday in court in Monroe to one count of conspiring to falsify documents to obstruct and influence a matter within federal jurisdiction.

District Judge Terry Doughty scheduled sentencing May 1. Shaffer could get up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

Richwood Correctional Center is a medium-security prison run by LaSalle Corrections in the Ouachita (WASH-uh-tah) Parish town of Richwood.


Donation, new apprenticeship at Lake Charles tech college

LAKE CHARLES, La. (AP) — A Houston-based liquefied natural gas company is making a $250,000 donation to a technical community college in southwest Louisiana, and launching a new apprenticeship program with the school.

Cheniere Energy and SOWELA Technical Community College announced the plans Thursday in Lake Charles. In a news release, they said the apprenticeship program will give 22 SOWELA students a chance to use their training in jobs at Cheniere Energy's Sabine Pass operation.

The apprenticeship partnership is to begin in January. The release says the $250,000 donation will be used to buy equipment for SOWELA's new Center for Industrial and Process Technology.


Mom, 2 others accused in death of special-needs woman

ELIZABETH, La. (AP) — A woman and two other people are charged with second-degree murder in the death of her neglected 25-year-old daughter, who had special needs.

News outlets report Louisiana authorities were called to a reported natural death on Friday and determined the Elizabeth woman had died from severe intentional neglect. Authorities on Tuesday arrested 47-year-old Karen Harrison Johnson, 52-year-old Marilyn Sue Maricle and 55-year-old Glen E. Maricle in the death of Johnson's daughter.

Johnson and her daughter had been staying with the Maricles in what Rapides Parish Sheriff's deputies called "deplorable living conditions."

Sheriff William Earl Hilton says his deputies have "never witnessed a scene of neglect as bad as this one."

It's unclear if Johnson or the Maricles have lawyers. An investigation is ongoing.


Damaged Mississippi River bridge to partially open Saturday

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — Louisiana's transportation department says it expects to partially reopen a damaged Mississippi River bridge on Saturday, nearly two months after it was shuttered and repairs began.

The Department of Transportation and Development says one lane of the Sunshine Bridge in Donaldsonville will reopen in each direction, with limitations, as repairs continue.

The bridge, northwest of New Orleans, was damaged by a barge collision Oct. 12. DOTD says work will continue around the clock to complete the repairs.

Load restrictions will be in place for the partial reopening, and the speed limit will be set at 45 miles per hour for all vehicles.

Crews have been installing concrete barriers on the westbound side of the bridge in preparation for the lane opening.

Full repairs are estimated to be complete in January.


Kennedy to say Monday if he's jumping into governor's race

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — The waiting game to learn if Republican U.S. Sen. John Kennedy is entering the 2019 Louisiana governor's race will continue a few days longer than expected.

Kennedy intends to announce Monday whether he will challenge Democratic incumbent John Bel Edwards in next year's election. That's two days later than a prior deadline Kennedy set to release his decision.

Senator's spokesman Preston Robinson cited a change in Kennedy's travel schedule as the reason for the delay.

Kennedy's decision is eagerly awaited. If he decides to run, the popular senator would be a formidable candidate. If he decides against running, that could make it easier for other Republicans eyeing the race, like U.S. Rep. Ralph Abraham, to enter it.

Only one GOP contender has announced so far: Baton Rouge businessman Eddie Rispone.


New Orleans police arrest man in woman's death in fire

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Police in New Orleans have arrested a man and charged him with second-degree murder in a woman's death in a fire.

News outlets reported 39-year-old Erik Beasley was arrested Tuesday after he was released from a hospital. Beasley was also charged with aggravated arson.

The New Orleans Parish Coroner's Office has not confirmed the woman's name.

She was found Nov. 23 on a burned chaise, although the rest of the room had little damage. Police say also Beasley lived in the home. There was no sign of forced entry to the home.

Police records show Beasley bought gasoline less than an hour before firefighters were called to the home.

Police did not say why Beasley had been in a hospital before his arrest. There was no information on an attorney.

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