The Jefferson Parish Sheriff's office says a 43-year-old man from Honduras killed his live-in girlfriend early Sunday morning while five children were inside the home. Colonel John Fortunato says the homicide took place inside an apartment in Metairie.
"Two children discovered their mother lying in the bathtub bleeding profusely from the head, it was then they ran next door and asked the neighbor to call police."
Authorities say five children were in the home when the murder occurred. Fortunato says a 5-year-old and 8-year-old alerted a neighbor their mother was unresponsive in a bathtub. He says the 25-year-old girlfriend died from blunt force trauma to the head and an autopsy is scheduled for Monday.
Fortunato says 43-year-old Pedro Alberto Monterroso-Navas faces second-degree murder charges. Authorities are searching for the suspected killer, who fled with three of the children living inside the home. They range from ages 2 to 12-years-old.
Parking and access at the Louisiana State Capitol is about to become a little more difficult for visitors. A $4.3 million dollar project to improve security around the building began last week.
State Office of Facility Planning Director Mark Moses says this will do more than just add more security measures.
"This will also allow us to enhance some traffic flow in and around the capitol as well as, we believe, create a more friendly pedestrian experience for the visitors."
The project has been talked about for years and work finally began after funding became available. It includes the installation of four security posts and vehicles will be routed further away from the building. Moses these upgrades will make the capitol a more pedestrian-friendly campus. Work is expected to be completed next March, a few weeks before the 2015 legislative session is scheduled to begin.
The state department of education reports for the third year in a row the state's high school graduation rate has increased. State Education Superintendent John White says for the class of 2013, 74-percent graduated in four years a 12-percentage point increase from 2001.
"I commend our schools and our school systems for focusing relentlessly on the most fundamental of ideas which is that every young man and woman deserves a chance at the life opportunity that is granted by a diploma," said White.
White credits holding districts and schools accountable for their graduation rate as a reason why the state has seen a recent rise in the percentage of students who receive a diploma.
"Now it shows up in schools accountability scores and it shows up in the letter grades of schools," said White. "It's a significant percentage of that."
White says while it's encouraging to see the graduation rate rise, they still have a long way to go.
He hopes a new program called "Jump Start," which provides career courses and workplace experiences to high school students, can improve the graduation rate even more.
"Jump Start is going to provide a pathway to technical opportunities in the work force that exist in our state in abundance," said White. "That's going to mean motivated kids and pathways through college and right into the workplace."
Authorities in St. James Parish say we may never know how 12-year-old Talaija Dorsey died. Sheriff Willy Martin says he spoke with the coroner after the autopsy and was told that an exact cause of death has not been established.
"But we're at the point now where we know we're working a homicide," said Martin. "If we don't find out how she died we still feel we have a strong case against this individual."
42-year-old John Celestine is charged with murder in the death of Dorsey.
Martin says they have requested more testing be done and this is still very much an ongoing investigation. Dorsey was found in a cane field near a wooded area in Vacherie five days after she was reported missing on July 1st.
Martin says the little girl had been lying out there for a long time before he found her.
"There are a lot of issues with the body," said Martin. "It's just a difficult task."
A Thibodaux Police Department officer videotaped himself locked in his patrol car for just 10 minutes to illustrate how dangerous the heat can become inside in just a short period of time. The Department posted the video on YouTube and a day later it had over 30,000 views.
Officer David Melancon said he became miserable after just 20 seconds.
"I'm already starting to feel the sweat build up in the back of my neck," said Melancon. "Ok now it's been three minutes and let me tell you I feel like I've been in here a half hour."
There have been a lot of stories in the news lately about parents forgetting their kids were in the car on hot days which could lead to death.
Melancon becomes visibly anguished just a few minutes into the experiment.
"I'm just reaching five minutes. It's hot," said Melancon. "I can only imagine what a little kid goes through when they're sitting in a car without any air. Or a pet."
At one point in the video Melancon described the heat as nearly unbearable and says he felt as though he could bake cookies on the dashboard of the car.
He said his undershirt and socks were soaking wet after five minutes and it just got worse from there.
"I'm nine minutes in and I've got sweat everywhere," said Melancon. "It's hard to breathe. Temperatures are well over 100 degrees inside this vehicle."
When Melancon got out of the vehicle he said it felt like winter outside.
He says children and pets should never be left in hot cars even for just a few minutes.
Another poll on Louisiana's US Senate race shows its a tight race between democratic incumbent Mary Landrieu and republican US Representative Bill Cassidy. The Rasmussen survey of 750 voters has Landrieu leading Cassidy 46-43 percent. Political Analyst Clancy Dubos is not surprised by the poll numbers.
"It's going to be a typical Mary Landrieu race," Dubos said. "It's going to be hard fought, there's going to be a lot of charges and counter charges going back and forth. It's a classic Louisiana showdown."
Public Policy Polling also released a survey this week that showed a tie between Landrieu and Cassidy in a likely run-off.
Dubos says what motivates a voter could decide this race. He says voters who care about national issues, like the Affordable Care Act, will vote for Cassidy, those who support Landrieu's clout in the Senate will vote for her.
"She's a committee chair, presiding over a committee (Senate Energy and Natural Resources) that's very important to Louisiana's economy. Those who look at it through a Louisiana prism, tend to lean towards Landrieu."
Republicans Rob Maness and state representative Paul Hollis are also running, but they were not included in this poll.
New York Jets quarterback Michael Vick is in Louisiana this weekend, and not everyone is happy about it. Vick will be hosting "The Michael Vick Comedy Explosion" at the Strand Theatre Saturday night in Shreveport.
Local animal rights activists plan to protest the event. Attorney Dan
Keele says the protest is against the venue for hosting the show.
"We have a problem with dog fighting in the Shreveport area. We have
cases of animal abuse," Keele explained. "This is not the place and
time for the Strand Theatre to host Michael Vick."
There are some who welcome Vick to Shreveport.
A "Forgiveness Rally" will also take place at the Strand before the comedy show.
Shreveport Mayor Cedric Glover hopes both groups hold peaceful demonstrations.
He feels Vick has paid his debt to society and his story is, now, one of redemption.
"It's possible to be able to elevate yourself above and beyond your past
and to move forward into a positive direction," the mayor insisted.
He says Vick can have a life now of betterment and advancement form himself and other people as well.
Vick was jailed in 2007 for his involvement in a dog fighting ring.
Since his release in 2009, Vick has been a part-time advocate for animal
rights and stricter animal cruelty laws. Keele says his group's main
concern is the comedians on the show making fun of dog fighting.
Vick is scheduled to talk to young football players today at a football clinic at Independence Stadium.
Glover thinks Vick can give a very important message to the kids.
The famous Lasyone's Meat Pie Kitchen in Natchitoches will be featured on a new syndicated show which is scheduled to air this fall called "Flip My Food with Chef Jeff." The television crew was in town this week filming with the Meat Pie Kitchen owner, Chef Angela Lasyone.
"He comes in and works with you on the recipe of your specialty," said Lasyone. "And then he goes back onto his food truck and flips it into a more healthy version."
Lasyone says in each episode, Chef Jeff meets with people to show them how to "flip" their favorite dishes into dining experiences that are healthier.
She says Chef Jeff worked with the Lasyone Meat Pie Kitchen staff to learn about how they make the dough and meat that makes a delicious meat pie.
"Then we went back out to his truck and he actually made a different version," said Lasyone. "But you'll have to see the show to see what he did."
Lasyone says their episode of "Flip My Food with Chef Jeff" will air on the Food Network either in September or October.
She says she liked the healthier version of the Natchitoches meat pie Chef Jeff came up with, but it wouldn't be something you would be able to mass produce the way they do.
"I will say he used a lot of fresh herbs in his pastry and used a totally different type of flour," said Lasyone. "It was a lot different than what we make."
A recent survey asked Louisiana voters what issue is most important in deciding how you will vote for Congress this year. The survey, conducted by Harper Polling, shows the economy as the top issue for voters.
UL-Lafayette Political Science Professor Pearson Cross says that result is not surprising.
"In most years, election years and otherwise, when you ask what people care about the most, they'll say the economy. In this particular poll, something like 52% of the people mention, specifically, government spending, the economy, or jobs, economy related things as their top consideration."
Cross was surprised that Obamacare was listed as the number two concern for voters. He doesn't see Obamacare as a real issue in Louisiana by and large. With two contested congressional elections on the horizon, in the fifth and sixth districts, Cross doesn't see either issue playing very strongly in those races.
"I think those elections are going to be decided mostly about the demographic profiles of the voters, whether they're Republican or Democrat. And then all the candidates, the candidates some of whom are yet to be decided who's going to run and who's not going to run, and the strength of those campaigns."
The poll surveyed 506 likely voters. They also asked voters if things in the country are going in the right direction. 66-percent of respondents feel the country is moving on the wrong track. Cross says sitting lawmakers should take heed.
"It doesn't look good for incumbents in Congress. It doesn't look good for the President's party. So Democrats should hunker down this election cycle because it's probably coming."
The Pelican State is once again getting more recognition as a hotbed for entertainment as several Louisiana filmed series' earned Emmy nominations today including the leading HBO show "True Detective." Tim Hanks, who runs security at UL-Lafayette's New Iberia Research Center, played two roles in True Detective.
"I was signed on as a technical advisor and provided them with little intricate details of the Louisiana State Police," said Hanks. "I did 22 years with LSP and 15 as a detective."
Film and TV critics expect "True Detective," which was nominated for best drama series, to be an extremely strong contender in this year's Emmy awards.
Hanks feels people fell in love with the authenticity of the show and the Louisiana backdrop where creator Nic Pizzolatto is from.
"He had a lot of intimate knowledge of Louisiana culture and those types of things," said Hanks. "He's also a brilliant writer."
The Emmy Awards will be presented August 25th. Top Chef, which had some New Orleans episodes, got nominated as did The Big Easy based show "Treme" and "American Horror Story."
Hanks says he's not surprised "True Detective" is getting so much praise.
"It was well written and I think they got the best of the best with this one even with the crew to put this together," said Hanks. "I'm sure HBO spared no expense and I knew it would win some type of award."
Board of Elementary and Secondary Education leaders offer a compromise in their dispute with Governor Jindal over Common Core. BESE President Chas Roemer says they propose to use LEAP tests again this upcoming school year, but the exams will also contain questions from the PARCC exam, which is associated with Common Core.
"We feel a need to move now and outline a clear path for our teachers, students and school systems. And not wait another week and perhaps not reach a solution in another week."
Roemer says the PARCC questions used on standardized tests next year, will be ones that Louisiana helped develop. He says this allows the state to compare how its students are doing against others nationwide.
But The Jindal administration threw cold water on an idea for standardized tests in public schools. BESE leaders floated a plan to have a test with questions from the LEAP exam and the test tied to Common Core. But Commissioner of Administration Kristy Nichols says its not doable because existing contracts with LEAP are not valid for next school year.
"Both of those contracts were designed to get them through 2014, test development for different type of questions, neither of them contemplated new LEAP tests for 2015."
Nichols says there's also no state contract that would allow Louisiana to use Common Core tests for the 2014-15 school year and they have concerns over how questions from that test would be acquired.
It's unclear what will happen as there's still no standardized test in place for next school year, which begins in about a month.
A survey released by Harper Polling finds 86-percent of Louisiana residents say the nation's immigration laws need to be fixed. Dr. Sue Weishar, a migration specialist at Loyola University, says the current rules keep thousands of foreign born college grads with science, technology, engineering and math skills from gaining employment.
"It's just not working, it's not working for families, its not working for communities, it's not working for businesses and there's general agreement across the country it's broken."
The poll also found 58-percent of the respondents support an immigration reform plan that would secure the borders and expand visas for high-skilled workers. Weishar says these immigration reform ideas would benefit the country.
"The comprehensive immigration reform bill that was passed by the Senate last year would grow the economy by 900-billion dollars over a 20-year period."
Weishar says politics are keeping Congress from passing a substantial immigration reform bill.
As we begin to close out the summer driving season, the price at the pump is expected to dramatically decline. Gasbuddy.com Senior Petroleum Analyst Patrick DeHaan says gas prices in Louisiana could go down as much as ten cents a gallon or more by August.
"This comes as oil prices test their longest losing streak in almost 5 years today," said DeHaan.
The current statewide average for a gallon of regular in Louisiana is $3.46 which is down 2 cents from last week. Dehaan says we'll likely see that price in the 3.30's over the next couple of weeks.
DeHaan says you can attribute the drop to the cooling tensions in Iraq and a Hurricane Arthur which turned out to be no big deal.
"The lack of hurricanes is certainly helping to put downward pressure instead of upward pressure," said DeHaan. "And the stock market's taking a tumble today that's also helping propel prices lower at the pump."
With about a year and a half left to go in his second term, Governor Bobby Jindal's approval rating is at 32-percent. That's according to Public Policy Polling, which surveyed over six-hundred registered voters in Louisiana. Pollster Tom Jensen says Jindal continues to have the worst poll numbers of just about any elected official in the country.
"Just an amazing shift from four years ago at this time, when we were polling and found he was one of the most popular governors in the country," Jensen said.
Jindal is considering a possible run for President in 2016. But Jensen says their poll of Louisiana voters shows he would not do well in a republican presidential primary in his home state.
"Jindal finished 4th with only 12%. Ted Cruz leads with 19%, Jeb Bush and Mike Huckabee tied for 2nd at 17%."
Jensen says for the fun of it, they asked their poll respondents if they had a choice between Jindal and former governor Edwin Edwards for governor who would they vote for. He says 48-percent chose Edwards, 43-percent selected Jindal.
The poll does indicate that a higher percentage of democrats than republicans were surveyed.
Former New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin's sentence of 10 years in federal prison is quite familiar to another major Louisiana politician. Former Governor Edwin Edwards served eight and a half of a 10 year sentence at the federal prison in Oakdale.
Edwards says serving prison time is hard.
"It separates you from everything that's dear and precious to you except breath, itself. But, there's life after prison. And, even at my age, you have to just pick up the pieces and recognize that it was a bad bump in the road. But there's better times ahead."
Judge Helen Berrigan has recommended that Nagin serve his time at the federal prison in Oakdale, where the former governor served his time. Edwards says where the 58-year-old former mayor will serve his time is up to the Federal Bureau of Prisons.
"My guess is, because of his age, they will probably send him to some quasi-medical facility for evaluation, probably about a year, and, thereafter, assign him to a camp like Oakdale."
Nagin is scheduled to begin his prison sentence on September 8. Edwards, who was released from prison in 2011, is currently campaigning to represent Louisiana's Sixth District in Congress. He says serving prison time is something that is not easily forgotten.
"You never forget your first girlfriend or your first or last day in prison."
The 19th annual Manning Passing Academy, which brings in athletes from across the country to Nicholls State University to work on their game, kicks off today. The Thibodaux Chamber of Commerce estimates the event has a nearly $2 million economic impact for their area. President and CEO Kathy Benoit says this is a tremendous event for the city.
"We are so thrilled to have the camp here, it's our 10th anniversary year," said Benoit. "We welcome visitors from all over the country and even Canada and Mexico."
Benoit says not only does the camp bring in 1200 students and a staff of about 120 pro football athletes, but their families also come in for the 4 day event and they fill hotels and take big advantage of their time in Thibodaux.
The campers will be learning from football's first family -- Archie, Cooper, Peyton and Eli Manning and this is known as "THE" camp to go to for aspiring pro football players.
This year will be the 10th year the camp has been held at Nicholls and Benoit says it's as amazing now as it ever was.
She says the Manning's are a wonderful family.
"They've helped to provide a lot of facility improvements to Nicholls State and the University has really benefited from their presence," said Manning.
Governor Bobby Jindal and the Department of Education announce the state voucher program awarded more than 8,800 student with vouchers to attend a school of their choice for the upcoming school year. That's nearly 3,800 more vouchers than were issued just two years ago.
State Director of The Black Alliance for Educational Options, Eric Lewis.
"It just continues to show that there remains a demand for parent to have a myriad of options for educating their kids."
The vouchers were awarded for student attendance at 133 participating schools in 30 parishes across the state. Lewis says his organization released a survey earlier this year which shows parents are happy with the program.
"We still have upwards of 95% of the parents highly satisfied with their child's school."
The program received more than 13,000 applications for vouchers for the upcoming school year - up by 1,000 applications from last year. Lewis says the program seems to be working, but feels there is still room for the voucher program to grow and improve.
"But I think things are very positive for kids that have the opportunity to use this program. And so we want to make sure that parent throughout the state are able to maximize the avenues that they can use for educating their kids and ensuring their kids get a great education."
Former New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin was sentenced to ten years in federal prison today on charges of bribery, money laundering and fraud. Nagin was convicted in February for accepting thousands of dollars in bribes from businessman who were seeking city contracts or favors from Nagin. Assistant US Attorney Matt Coman calls it a significant sentence.
"What Ray Nagin did is sell his office, over and over again."
Nagin was ordered to report to the federal prison in Oakdale, Louisiana, by September eighth. The 58-year-old was also ordered to pay 82-thousand dollars in restitution. Coman says the sentence sends a strong message.
"We as a community need not and should not accept such public corruption"
Legal analyst Chick Foret says he's surprised by only ten years as the former mayor could have been sentenced to as many as 20 years.
"Ray Nagin should be very pleased with the sentence she handed down," Foret said.
Judge Helen Berrigan made it a point to say Nagin was not the ring-leader
in the bribery scheme. The judge also said Nagin is a strong family man and performed good deeds as mayor. Foret says it's interesting Nagin received the same sentence as former governor Edwin Edwards.
"Judge Berrigan took the approach that if the governor of the state of Louisiana gets 10 years, I'm going to give the mayor 10 years," Foret said. "He's 58-years-old and he can still come out and contribute to society."
Louisiana State Police say a 4 year old who stepped into the middle of Highway 165 in Monroe last night, was struck and killed by a vehicle. Trooper Albert Paxton says the incident occurred last night at around 9:40pm.
"4-year-old girl walked into the path of the vehicle," said Paxton.
Paxton says the investigation revealed 45-year-old Marvin Jones of Monroe was traveling north on 165 when his 2003 Chevy Trailblazer ran over the little 4-year-old girl.
He says troopers suspected impairment on the part of the driver.
"He was arrest for DWI and was booked into the Ouachita Correctional Center," said Paxton.
Paxton says the 4-year-old child, Niterrica Williams, was pronounced dead at a local hospital.
According to the Ouachita Parish Sheriff's Office arrest records, Jones submitted to an alcohol breath test and was found to have a .06 BAC which is below the legal limit. He was arrested for 1st offense DWI.
Paxton says even one drink could impair driving.
"You never know what could pop up in front of you and the first thing that goes when you start drinking is judgement," said Paxton. "When you're driving a vehicle, even one drink begins impairment."
A 29-year-old Morgan City woman faces charges after allegedly exposing a private area on her body to a jailer. Morgan City Police Captain James Banks says the incident happened as Devan Serpa was being processed for her alleged involvement in a shooting that took place last month.
"During the booking procedure, Serpa allegedly exposed herself to a male correctional officer in the facility and she was additionally charged with obscenity."
Serpa is also facing charges for illegal use of a weapon and principle to aggravated criminal damage to property as a result of shots that were fired, damaging two vehicles and residence. Banks says they are not sure why she exposed her genitals to a jailer.
"She was basically upset about being arrested and got into an argument with the corrections officer."