NOPD names suspects in five homicide cases - FOX 8 WVUE New Orleans News, Weather, Sports

NOPD names suspects in five homicide cases

Updated:

FOX 8 News received this press release, announcing arrests and investigative developments in five separate homicide cases, from NOPD Thursday afternoon:

New Orleans Police have arrested four murder suspects in the last 24 hours.  A fifth murder suspect was recently identified in a cold case, but was found to have died since committing the crime. 

One suspect believed to have been involved in the murder of a local college student was picked up at around 8 this morning at a relative's home in the 7400-block of Weaver Street.

Detectives say on October 19th, 18-year-old Devante Billy teamed up with a 16-year-old (who was arrested last week) to murder 24-year-old Valan May as he sat in his car in the 7900-block of Burke Road.    

Several members of the community came to police to describe and identify Billy in photo line-ups.  He's now booked with Second Degree Murder.

Devante Billy has been previously arrested for Bail Jumping and has other various warrants.

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Just before 1 this morning, officers stopped to talk to 20-year-old Kermitt Bernhart in the 100-block of Royal Street.  Bernhart and a group of males were loitering in front of a Royal Street business that has complained to police about loiterers and suspected drug activity. 

After running his name, officers found that Bernhart was wanted for the October 19th murder of 21-year-old Christopher Lambert.  Lambert was found dead on the bathroom floor of an abandoned house in the 2400-block of Orleans Avenue.    

Witnesses identified Bernhart in photo line-ups, and said he spoke of killing Lambert before the murder was carried through. He was subsequently booked with Second Degree Murder.

ProjectNola was of great assistance in this case, as they provided surveillance video that proved helpful to investigators. 

Kermitt Bernhart previously has been arrested for Attempted Negligent Homicide, Shoplifting and Possession of Stolen Property.  He also was currently on Probation until June 2016 for Illegal Possession of a Stolen Vehicle and Attempted Negligent Homicide.

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At 10 this morning, a cold-case dating back to 2006 was solved when the gunman in a Central City murder turned himself in to his probation officer.   24-year-old Dwayne Butler surrendered at the Probation and Parole Office in the 700-block of St. Charles Avenue. 

Butler is accused of gunning down 17-year-old Keith Simmons near the intersection of Dryades and Third Streets on December 15, 2006. 

Cold Case Detective Decynda Barnes located witnesses who agreed to provide taped statements about the 6-year-old crime.  They also identified Butler as the gunman in photo line-ups.  Barnes acquired an arrest warrant for Second Degree Murder yesterday, and Butler was placed under arrest this morning. 

Dwayne Butler has been previously arrested for 1st and 2nd Degree Murder(2009), Manslaughter, Possession of Crack Cocaine, Disturbing the Peace, Various Warrants, Auto Theft, Unauthorized use Of a Motor Vehicle, Possession Of Marijuana 1st Offense, Criminal Trespass, Aggravated Battery, Flight From an Officer. Dwayne Butler is currently on Parole until April 2014 for Accessory After the Fact of 2nd Degree Murder. 

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At about 9:00 AM today, members of the Violent Offender Warrant Squad (VOWS) arrested the man wanted for opening fire on a man at Stallings Playground last spring.  Officers picked up 21-year-old Chevroun Smith in the 1400-block of St. Dennis Street. Detectives say Smith gunned down 32-year-old Ali Robinson on April 13th in the 2700-block of Laharpe Street.  Smith was booked with Second Degree Murder. 

Chevroun Smith previously has been arrested for Illegal Carrying of a Weapon, Flight from an Officer, Battery, Contributing to Child Delinquency, Unauthorized Use of a Moveable, Possession of Stolen Auto over $500, Disturbing the Peace, Traffic Violations, a Warrant and an Attachment. Smith was on Parole for Unauthorized Use of a Motor Vehicle which ended May 10, 2012.

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A fifth case that was solved recently was a second cold case that happened nearly 9 years ago.  29-year-old Aaron Morgan was fatally wounded on Saturday, January 10, 2004, as he was leaving a convenience store in the 1900 block of Forstall Street. Assailants struck Morgan in the head with a blunt object and shot him multiple times as he attempted to flee. The suspects fled the scene in a maroon colored Ford Expedition. Detective Richard Chambers was assigned to this cold case. In taking over the investigation, he recently was able to locate a witness who positively identified one of the perpetrators as Albert Reed, who is deceased.   

"The people of New Orleans should be incredibly proud of the hardworking detectives in our Homicide Division.  They're not only making arrests in recent murders, but our Cold Case detectives are re-checking facts, locating witnesses and cracking older cases at a good rate", said Superintendent Ronal Serpas. 

"I encourage you to look at the arrest records of these suspects.  It's alarming that some of these men had previously been arrested for illegally carrying guns, and one suspect had been picked up on First and Second Degree murder charges."

 "In other words, our officers are tracking down and hauling in the right people.  How these same people are walking the streets freely with residents and their families, is cause for great concern", Serpas said. 

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