New Orleans DA misses deadline, remains adamant to try teen accused of paralyzing UNO student as adult

Published: Dec. 21, 2022 at 3:14 PM CST|Updated: Dec. 21, 2022 at 5:10 PM CST
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NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - New Orleans District Attorney Jason Williams will have to go through additional measures to try a 16-year-old attempted murder suspect as an adult after missing a 30-day window to transfer the case out of the juvenile system, court records show.

Cruz Matute, 16, is accused of paralyzing 24-year-old UNO student Noah Hansard from the waist down during an armed robbery in August.

Orleans Criminal Court Judge Laurie White granted Matute’s defense team a motion to quash the case on Dec. 21.

Williams’ office says it took longer than 30 days to have the proper conversations with family members and review the evidence in the case.

“The DA’s Office strongly disagrees with the Court’s decision to dismiss our indictment of Cruz Matute, and will absolutely be appealing the decision. We are firm in our position that Matute should be tried as an adult, and we will do everything within the bounds of the law to ensure that he is,” Williams’ office said in a statement. “Charging a juvenile in adult court is a serious decision; in this case, the process to conduct a thorough investigation, review all evidence, and have conversations with the victim and his family took longer than 30 days, as we wanted to make sure that we made the right decision to ensure appropriate accountability for the defendant. Matute is alleged to have committed an egregious, violent crime that left a man paralyzed for the rest of his life, and we will argue vigorously for the indictment to be preserved so that we can pursue justice in adult court.”

Prosecutors will now have to return to juvenile court for another transfer hearing. That court date has not yet been set.

Earlier this month, the victim’s family met with Williams’ office and was told the plan was to try Matute as an adult. Williams’ office confirmed that plan to Fox 8.

If Matute is to be tried as a juvenile, a life sentence would last until he is 21 years old, meaning he would serve five years at most for his suspected role in the robbery and attempted murder of Hansard.

The Hansard family has fought for months to have the case moved to adult court.

“The people who are being so injured and killed are asking for our judicial system to start looking at their rights,” Hansard’s mother said.

A second suspect in Hansard’s shooting is still at-large, officials say. If you have any information that could help detectives, you’re encouraged to contact NOPD or call Crimestoppers at 504-822-1111.

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