The Plaquemines Parish District Court and District Attorney’s Office have had to alter their customary way of handling criminal cases due to COVID. Despite the extra hardship it has placed on these offices, processing criminal cases continues.
On January 10th felony cases were set for criminal jury trials in Division B before Judge Michael D. Clement. On that day the first case presented by Jason Napoli, an Assistant District Attorney in the Plaquemines Parish District Attorney’s Office, was State of Louisiana versus Robert Gould, age 63 years, on two counts of Molestation of a Juvenile.
Charges were based on two instances in which he molested his 5-year-old niece in the late 1980’s. The 5-year-old girl reported the crime to her mother when it happened, but it was not reported to the police. When the victim grew older, she contacted PPSO and gave a full statement of how her uncle molested her when she was 5 years old. A second victim, who was also a family member of the defendant, also came forward with similar allegations. During jury selection, the defendant changed his plea from Not Guilty to Guilty as charged and was sentenced to ten years in prison and will be required to register as a sex offender for the rest of his life. Detective Holly Hardin handled the investigation for the Plaquemines Parish Sheriff’s Office.
Following the plea by Gould, the District Attorney’s Office requested Judge Clement to allow it to try a second case that was set for trial at that time.
The next case scheduled was State of Louisiana versus Christopher Brooks, age 22 years, for a charge of Armed Robbery. Assistant District Attorney Napoli advised Judge Clement that two of its witnesses had just tested positive for COVID and requested that the trial start a week later. Judge Clement granted the request and advised the prospective jurors to return to the Courthouse on January 18th for jury selection.
The case events were that on October 16th, 2019 Brooks and another man approached the two victims in front of one of the victim’s homes. Brooks produced a handgun and demanded the victim’s money. One victim gave Brooks 20 dollars. Brooks and his accomplice then stole the victims X-Box video game console out of the workshop. The victims contacted the police and Detective Brett Taylor was assigned the case. Both victims identified Christopher Brooks as the perpetrator.
After a jury was seated, Brooks pled guilty to Attempted Armed Robbery and was sentenced to eight years in prison.
-Charles J. Ballay, District Attorney