By Kaitlin Rust | WVUE | May 24, 2021
NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) – Two 15-year-olds suspected of killing a 52-year-old woman in January will be charged as adults for murder.
This comes after New Orleans District Attorney Jason Williams made a campaign promise not to try juveniles as adults.
“The decision to prosecute this murder and armed robbery committed by juveniles in criminal court is not at all taken lightly, but it is right and it is just,” Williams said.
Anita Le-Viege, 52, was dropping off groceries for her parents on Morrison Road, January 3, when someone tried to carjack her.
She tried to get away but was shot multiple times with a rifle and continued down the road hitting parked cars. Le-Viege and her dog Chloe both died.
Williams named Que’dyn Growe, 15, and Demond Thomas, 15, as the alleged killers, who he says then went on less than an hour later to commit an armed robbery nearby.
“We refuse to send a message to young people engaged in criminal activity that murders by juveniles will receive less scrutiny and less accountability,” Williams said.
Williams says in this case, the juvenile system would be inadequate, only sentencing the 15-year-olds to four or five years, instead of the 25 years to life they are now facing.
This walks back a campaign promise made by Williams to not charge teens as adults.
Rafael Goyeneche with the Metropolitan Crime Commission says there are never absolutes.
“It indicates maybe he’s had his eyes opened by some of the responsibilities of that office that maybe when he was running, I don’t think he fully understood some of the cases he be faced with having to make these types of decisions on,” Goyeneche said.
Williams also spent a great deal talking about the roll adults play in this severe issue, saying he wants to send a message to those who recruit teens to commit crimes and murders for them because the sentencing is lesser for a juvenile.
Williams says they are trying to figure out if that is the case with Growe and Thomas, both without prior criminal records according to the DA.
“If you were found to be responsible for encouraging supporting or protecting juvenile offenders, before or after criminal activity, you will be held criminally responsible as well,” Williams warned.
Williams praised Growe’s father, who turned his own son in.
“The DA is office having an open eye and an open mind towards considering those cases when they arise is a significant move forward, providing some checks and balances, not just for the offender, but for the general public too, because I think that the public has been the forgotten element in a lot of this,” Goyeneche said.
Williams reaffirmed a commitment to handling juvenile matters in juvenile court as well as keeping teens housed in appropriate juvenile facilities, which he says is where Growe and Thomas will be while facing charges of second degree murder and armed robbery.
In conjunction with the NOPD Serial Crimes task force, Williams says they are looking into the adult connection in juvenile crimes, connecting thefts of guns from cars to carjackings, and the cars and guns to homicides.
Williams also announced in the press conference that he will be inviting stakeholders to a youth summit in the coming weeks to talk about how to address the issue of juvenile crime ahead of a challenging Summer.
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