Teen accepts plea deal in Garden District rape and robbery case - FOX 8, WVUE, fox8live.com, weather, app, news, saints

Teen accepts plea deal in Garden District rape and robbery case

New Orleans, La. – The youngest of the three teenagers charged in the February kidnapping, rape and robbery of a Garden District woman pleaded guilty Wednesday as part of an agreement that will keep him in prison for 30 years.

Sheldon Jefferson will cooperate with prosecutors in the case against the two other teens.

The crime started in the 1200 block of 8th Street, where a woman was walking from her car to her home when she was kidnapped, sexually assaulted and robbed.

"The victim will not be over this quickly," said a neighbor, who did not want to be identified.

Jefferson pleaded guilty to second-degree kidnapping, forcible rape and armed robbery. He had faced more serious charges.

The two remaining suspects, 17-year-old Joseph Davis and 18-year-old Christopher Davis, could make a court appearance Friday. Jefferson will testify against them if they go to trial.

"It puts a lot of pressure on them," said FOX 8 Legal Analyst Joe Raspanti. "If you want to convict the devil, sometimes you have to go to hell to get your witnesses, and that's what the DA is doing with his testimony."

Jefferson said in court that his formal education stopped in the 8th grade. Judge Franz Zibilich peppered him with questions in an attempt to make sure Jefferson fully understood the proceedings. Jefferson, standing next to his attorney, said that he did.

"You terrorized this woman and she's never going to be the same," Ziblich said.

Jefferson told the judge that had he known what his friends intended to do, he would not have gotten into the car with them. But Ziblich pointed out that he had been a willing participant, which Jefferson did not deny.

"I'm sorry to the victim who it happened to," Jefferson said to the judge.

Zibilich said he was not the person who needed an apology.

"You should tell her you're sorry," Ziblich said. "You want to tell her you're sorry?"

Jefferson replied by turning to the rear of the courtroom where the victim was seated.

"I'm sorry," Jefferson said.

"It doesn't get much worse than what they are accused of doing," Raspanti said. "These guys, if true, were predators on the street."

Late Wednesday afternoon, Jefferson's attorney, Morris Reed Jr., issued the following statement to FOX 8 News:

"Sheldon was indicted on four counts of aggravated rape which carry mandatory life sentences, armed robbery which has a sentencing range of 10-99 years and aggravated kidnapping which also carries a mandatory life sentence if convicted. There was every indication from the court that if tried and convicted of any of these crimes or any lesser included offenses Sheldon would have been sentenced to 60, 70, 80 years in prison and/or even life without parole. Considering the evidence in this case (video recorded confessions, DNA evidence, potential victim testimony, etc.) it was in my client's best interest to accept the plea deal negotiated on his behalf."

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