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Suspect in murder of mom pleads guilty to manslaughter

District Attorney Leon Cannizzaro's office on Friday (Sept. 7) secured the manslaughter...
District Attorney Leon Cannizzaro's office on Friday (Sept. 7) secured the manslaughter conviction of a New Orleans man who fatally shot a Des Allemands woman in 2015 before setting her body and car aflame in an attempt to conceal the crime.(DA's Office)
Updated: Sep. 7, 2018 at 11:32 AM CDT
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NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) -A suspect who fatally shot a Des Allemands woman in 2015 before setting her body and car on fire pleaded guilty to manslaughter Friday, according to the District Attorney’s Office.

District Attorney Leon Cannizzaro’s office said they secured the manslaughter conviction of Thayon Samson in connection with the killing of Lindsay Nichols.

Samson, 33, pleaded guilty to an amended charge of manslaughter and guilty as charged to second-degree kidnapping, obstruction of justice and solicitation for murder in connection with the killing of 31-year-old Nichols.

With the plea, Samson averted a scheduled Sept. 10 trial for second-degree murder that might have produced a lifetime prison sentence.

As part of a plea agreement approved by the victim’s family and Criminal District Judge Robin Pittman, Samson was sentenced to the manslaughter maximum of 40 years in state prison without benefit of probation, parole or suspension of sentence, according to Cannizzaro.

Before being remanded into Department of Corrections custody, Samson will return to court on Monday to hear victim-impact statements from Nichols' family.

"This truly was one of the most horrific crimes seen in New Orleans in recent years," Cannizzaro said. "While this guilty plea cannot bring this young woman back to her loved ones, it does at least spare them the agony of hearing her anguished final moments recounted at trial. I'm proud of the work that NOPD detectives and our diligent prosecutors put forth to bring this killer to justice."

Nichols, a single mother from Des Allemands, was seen on video surveillance footage recovered...
Nichols, a single mother from Des Allemands, was seen on video surveillance footage recovered by police leaving a Downman Road nightclub with Samson around 4 a.m. on June 21, 2015.(DA's office)

Nichols, a single mother from Des Allemands, was seen on video surveillance footage recovered by police leaving a Downman Road nightclub with Samson around 4 a.m. on June 21, 2015.

Nichols later made a frantic call to 911 at 4:48 a.m., telling an emergency operator that a man was outside her car, holding her car keys and pointing a gun at her.

Officials later determined that the 911 operator did not dispatch a police unit to the scene for eight minutes, and did not inform officers that the call for help was an emergency involving a gun.

Responding officers spent about 15 minutes looking for Nichols in a New Orleans East parking lot before leaving and marking the complaint as “unfounded” at 5:10 a.m. The 911 operator later resigned under investigation.

At approximately 7:15 a.m., New Orleans firefighters discovered Nichols' remains inside the trunk of her Honda Accord, which had been set aflame on a deserted stretch of Michoud Boulevard near Lake Forest Boulevard. The Orleans Parish Coroner's office identified the burned body as Nichols, and determined the woman had been killed by multiple gunshots.

NOPD homicide detective Rob Barrere also found partially burned in the trunk a pair of basketball shorts.

The shorts matched a pair worn by Samson in a photo found on his Instagram account, and were linked to the defendant through DNA testing.

The investigation and arrest of Samson, who worked as both a barber and exotic dancer, featured in an episode of the A&E docudrama “The First 48.”

Samson's co-defendant in the case, 30-year-old Troy Varnado Jr., remains scheduled for trial Sept. 17. An Orleans Parish grand jury in May 2017 charged Varnado with second-degree murder, second-degree kidnapping, obstruction of justice and accessory after the fact to second-degree murder.

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