Federal authorities poised to take Tyrese Harris prosecution away from Orleans DA

Published: Feb. 8, 2022 at 7:29 AM CST|Updated: Feb. 8, 2022 at 11:00 PM CST
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NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - Federal authorities appear poised to take the prosecution of accused killer and Costco carjacker Tyrese Harris away from Orleans Parish District Attorney Jason Williams’ office.

The Orleans Parish Sheriff’s Office confirmed that federal authorities placed a detainer on Harris late Monday night (Feb. 7), claiming custody of the 18-year-old defendant for the intention of prosecuting him in federal court.

Williams’ office has not yet made charging decisions on numerous allegations brought against Harris since his arrest Sunday by New Orleans police. But the local DA is on record last Nov. 10 refusing an armed robbery case against Harris submitted by the NOPD after an alleged car theft at gunpoint that occurred in August 2021.

Williams issued a statement Monday attributing that decision to a lack of cooperation from the victim in the case.

The detainer in Harris’ jail file shows federal agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) have obtained an initial arrest warrant for the teen from the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana for offenses of carjacking and using a firearm during a crime of violence.

A spokesman said U.S. Attorney Duane A. Evans’ office had no comment about the detainer nor its intention to prosecute Harris.

Additional felony charges could be forthcoming from a federal grand jury, particularly since New Orleans police said in documents submitted Monday in state court that Harris has confessed to the Jan. 3 murder of 12-year-old Derrick Cash in New Orleans East. Cash died from multiple gunshot wounds when he emerged from the driver’s seat of a stolen vehicle in the 14000 block of Michoud Boulevard, in what marked the city’s first homicide of 2022.

It was not immediately clear whether it is the violent Feb. 1 carjacking of realtor Kelleye Rhein at the Costco gas station, or one of at least two other carjacking incidents police have linked to Harris, that has drawn the first attention from federal law enforcement. The NOPD filed court documents Monday alleging Harris fired several shots at a would-be victim on Jan. 18 during a failed carjacking attempt on Howard Avenue.

The case details have sentencing implications if Harris is convicted in federal court. Under federal law, carjacking is punishable by up to 15 years in federal prison, but up to 25 years if the carjacking resulted in “serious bodily injury” to the victim.

The federal penalty for using a firearm during a crime of violence also has a sliding scale of additional prison time to be tacked on consecutively to the core crime’s sentence. The federal statute adds five years for using or carrying a firearm during a crime of violence, seven years for brandishing a firearm during a crime of violence, and 10 years for firing a gun during the commission of a violent crime.

Related coverage:

Bond set at over $2.75 million for teen accused of murder, carjacking

Teen suspect in brutal Costco carjacking recently booked with armed robbery count that DA’s office refused to prosecute

Zurik: 1,500+ timed out of jail or bond obligations in 2021

Zurik: Over 880 people, some violent offenders, released without charges in 2021

Husband pleads for violent crime solutions after wife’s brutal carjacking at Costco

New Orleans school closing for day of mourning following shooting deaths of two children

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