Mother of a 24-year-old shot and paralyzed fears shooter won’t be tried as an adult

Published: Jan. 20, 2023 at 9:21 PM CST
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NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - It’s been around five months since police say a 16-year-old shot and paralyzed 24-year-old UNO student Noah Hansard.

Orleans District Attorney Jason Williams vowed the case would be tried in adult court. But the mother of the victim is worried that won’t happen.

Noah Hansard’s world was turned upside down when he was shot and paralyzed. His mother, Elisabeth, has been his advocate pushing for the suspect in the case, 16-year-old Cruz Matute to be tried in adult court.

Mother of UNO student shot and paralyzed from waist down. thankful suspect is tried as an adult
Mother of UNO student shot and paralyzed from waist down. thankful suspect is tried as an adult

“The reality is: his whole life got derailed by one or two people pulling a trigger,” said Elisabeth Hansard, the mother of the 24-year-old Noah Hansard.

Orleans district attorney Jason Williams says he agrees; if Matute is tried and convicted as a juvenile, and if he were to receive the maximum sentence, that means he would be out of jail by age 21.

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“This case is too severe and too horrendous for a sentence that would end on his 21st birthday,” said District Attorney Jason Williams. “The level of dangerousness, the level of violence, is not commensurate with it just being in juvenile court.”

As we reported in December, Williams’ office missed the 30-day window under state law to indict Matute in adult court. Williams says he is appealing the ruling by judge Laurie White to the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals.

Williams says the record of the intent to appeal has been made at the trial court. Now his office is waiting on transcripts from the December court hearing.

“I believe we’ll be successful at the 4th, and if we’re not successful at the 4th, you can rest assured, we’ve already written up briefs to the Supreme Court. This is a fight we’re ready to have,” Williams said. “We do thorough research on the law and precedent. We know that the law and precedent is with us, and so there’s not a doubt in my mind that we’re going to be able to move forward with this case as planned.”

Matute faces three charges: illegal possession of a firearm by a juvenile, armed robbery and attempted second-degree murder. On Monday, he’ll go to juvenile court and enter a plea on the gun charge.

Noah’s mother has expressed concerns that Matute could enter a guilty plea Monday and possibly walk free. With the two more severe charges in legal limbo, Williams can’t say definitively, but he says his office will fight tooth and nail.

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