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Man collapses and dies while attacking woman with machete in Opelousas

Michelle Southern reporting.
The St. Landry Parish Sheriff's office says a man died as he was apparently trying to attack a woman with a machete in Opelousas. Capt. Megan Vizena says they received a call from the victim who told dispatch a man was on top of her with a machete and that she'd been cut several times.
"What we know right now is that the male subject laid over and died," said Vizena. "It wasn't anything the female died. He sustained no injuries from her."

Vizena says they don't think the victim and the suspect knew each other and the motive for the break-in and attack remains under investigation.

She says the woman sustained several lacerations and is recovering at a local hospital.

Vizena says the victim was asleep when the attack was taking place but woke up and tried to escape.

"And she started fighting him off and in the victims words he just rolled over and died," said Vizena.

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Man arrested for alleged crawfish theft

The Department of Wildlife and Fisheries have arrested a Crowley man for alleged theft of crawfish and criminal trespassing.  39 year-old Jason Mire was observed allegedly taking crawfish from traps in a pond that did not belong to him. 

  Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries spokesman Adam Einck describes what happened.

"We did receive some complaints and we went out there to check it out and, sure enough, we found this Mr. Mire breaking the law.  He was trespassing and also the theft of the crawfish as well."
LDWF Agents received complaints from crawfish farmers in Acadia Parish about people stealing mudbugs from traps in their ponds.  Einch says crawfish theft is something that the LDWF doesn't take lightly.
"You know we take our crawfish very seriously here in Louisiana and these crawfishermen, you know, this is their livelihood.  So we try to protect the resource and also protect the economy of the crawfish that happens in Louisiana."
 Mire was caught with 31 pounds of crawfish, valued at $62.  Einck says that Mire is facing a pretty stiff penalty.
"Theft of crawfish it could bring up to $500 in fines and six months in jail.  And also for the trespassing charge he's also looking up to $500 in fines and 30 days in jail.  So, basically a total of about $1000 in fines and maybe up to 90 days in jail."

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New poll suggests McAllister likely not horribly damaged by scandal

Jeff Palermo reporting.
51-percent of those polled in the 5th congressional district, say they will not vote for US Representative Vance McAllister this fall. The telephone survey of 13-hundred registered voters was conducted by Pineville pollster David Glascock. ULM Political Science Professor Joshua Stockley says McAllister should be encouraged by the poll.

"Clearly Representative McAllister has been damaged by the scandal," said Stockley. "But the numbers tell us while he's been damaged he hasn't necessarily been destroyed or knocked out."

The pollster says the survey was paid for by "political activists." It also asked voters who they would vote for in a run-off election between McAllister and state senator Neil Riser.

McAllister lost by 12-percentage points. Stockley says there's time for the so-called kissing Congressman to rebound before the November election.

"Representative McAllister still stands a good chance of being re-elected, even if he runs against a formidable opponent as Senator Riser would be," Stockley said.

The poll comes out on the heels of a video that shows McAllister, a father of five, kissing a staffer that was also married.

Stockley says the poll shows many people are not happy with McAllister, but there's time to make a political comeback.

"53% said there is nothing Representative McAllister can do to gain trust or re-gain trust in him," said Stockley. "I really do suspect that number would change over time. This poll is only a week out of a major scandal."

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LSP: Man arrested for 6th offense DWI for "drug driving"

Michelle Southern reporting.
State police say a Denham Springs man who is just 29-years-old was arrested for 6th offense DWI Wednesday. Trooper Jared Sandifer says the warrant came down following a serious injury crash that was caused by Lee Edward Easley in February in Livingston Parish.

He says Easly hit a car head on and both drivers were sent to the hospital.
"Medical professionals over there were able to obtain toxicology samples from him because troopers felt that he may have been impaired at the time of the crash," Sandifer said. "Basically those toxicology samples came back and showed that he did have several narcotics in his system on the day of the crash."

He says this was not the first time Easley was arrested for driving under the influence.

"When our troopers were doing their investigation they learned that Mr. Easley had been charged 5 prior times for DWI," Sandifer said. "That's what made this his 6th offense."

Sandifer says they obtained an arrest warrant through the 21st JDC and charged Easley with DWI 6th offense, reckless operation, 1st degree vehicular negligent injuring and possession of marijuana.

He was arrested at his home and booked into the Livingston Parish jail.

Sandifer it's a shame someone so young has committed so many crimes.

"There is a huge problem out there not just with drunk driving but drug driving as well," said Sandifer.

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ASPSO: Man shoots wife and 12 year old son then jumps into river

Michelle Southern reporting.
The Ascension Parish Sheriff's office is currently investigating a case in which they believe a man murdered his wife and 12-year-old son in Gonzales, then jumped into the Mississippi River. Chief Deputy Tony Bacala says 44-year-old Ronald Green called someone at the East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff's office around 2am this morning.
(pictured: Ronald Green)

"Then said, 'I just killed my wife and son and I'm going to jump off the Mississippi River Bridge,'" Bacala said. "We sent deputies to the home where they found the front door had been broken in and they went inside and found Dewona Green and their 12-year-old son both dead, they'd been shot."

He says soon after they located Green's car on top of the Veterans Memorial Bridge in St. John Parish.

Bacala said the Green's had recently been involved in domestic violence situations.

"And last week we assisted Dewona in getting a restraining order against Ronald Green," said Bacala. "He was not supposed to come near the home or contact her. Obviously it didn't end well."

Bacala says the victims were found in a bedroom of the home and he believes they were shot shortly before Green made the call.

He added, "This makes no sense at all. You just sit back and wonder how someone could do something so horrible."

Bacala said the investigation is ongoing as Green has not yet been located but there is currently a warrant out for his arrest for 2 counts of first degree murder.

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Elmer's Easter candy sales hopping right along!

Michelle Southern reporting.
A must-have for Louisiana Easter baskets is a candy that's been around over 160 years and is manufactured in Ponchatoula -- Elmer's Chocolate's. President Rob Nelson says the Easter Bunny has been filling baskets with Gold Brick Eggs since 1936 and Heavenly Hash Eggs have been around since 1923.

"Those are certainly the staples down here for the Easter diet in south Louisiana," said Nelson.

The company started in New Orleans in 1955 as a pastry business but eventually became Elmer Candy Corporation.

Nelson says Elmer's candy sales so far are up over 10% from last year. He says though the chocolates are extremely popular every year, the boost in sales can be attributed to the length of the Easter season.

"It always starts right after Valentine's Day and this year is a late Easter," Nelson says. "The weather has also been nice and it's got people out buying their Easter candy."

Heavenly Hash is their second most popular Easter candy but the Gold Brick Eggs and their different flavors top the charts every year.

Nelson says the Gold Brick Egg started being sold in 1936 for a dime around the time when candy bars were going for five cents.

"Nobody thought it would sell but it just took off right away and we've been moving along ever since," Nelson said.

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Coastal expert responds to BP's move to end active clean-up efforts along the coast

The advisor to Governor Jindal on coastal affairs is concerned about BP's announcement that the Coast Guard is ending active clean-up efforts on Louisiana's coast. The oil company makes the announcement just days before the fourth anniversary of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster. Jerome Zeringue says oiling of Louisiana's coastline will continue.

"We continue to experience re-oiling on a daily basis," Zeringue "BP must continue to respond to this oil and we are going to be experiencing oil on our shoreline for many years to come." 
Zeringue says Louisiana has a monitoring agreement with BP, which means they call on the Coast Guard whenever oil is spotted on the coast. He says it's disappointing active operations have concluded, but at least BP is not abandoning Louisiana completely. 
"We just need to make sure that we do what we can to address those issues and concerns and those potential long term impacts."

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House education committee approves the "Merry Christmas" bill

The House Education Committee approves a bill that gives public schools the authority to put up nativity scenes and Christmas trees as part of a holiday display. The author of the measure is Shreveport Representative Alan Seabaugh, who says it's the Merry Christmas bill.

"The point of the bill is that you don't have to call it a holiday tree, it can be a Christmas tree and the Supreme Court said repeatedly that's okay," Seabaugh said.
Seabaugh says he gets calls every year from public schools, asking if they can have a Christmas play or put up a Christmas tree.
But he says schools are still now allowed to promote one religion over another. The bill heads to the House floor.

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ULM named most underrated college in Louisiana by Business Insider

Michelle Southern reporting.
Business Insider Magazine has named The University of Louisiana at Monroe the most underrated college in the state. ULM President Dr. Nick Bruno said the publication chose one college from each state which exhibited great academics, high acceptance rates and strong in state student populations.

He says he's known for a long time that ULM is the best kept secret in Louisiana's higher education system.

"It's also exciting to see the other notable schools from other states that also made the list along with ULM," said Bruno.

Others on the list include Clemson, Mississippi State, Texas A&M, Oklahoma, Virginia Tech and the University of Florida.

Bruno says it's very rewarding to see such a notable publication recognize that ULM is an institution that has a lot to offer students seeking a quality education.

He says he's told his staff that bragging ends when fact begins.

"In many cases we always like to think that the facts spoke for themselves and this recognition is identified on facts," Bruno said.

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State lawmakers do not like the idea of armed school teachers

Members of the House Criminal Justice committee shot down a proposal to allow some teachers and administrators to carry a gun on school campuses. Shreveport Representative Barbara Norton said no way.
"They (teachers) are not going to have the training that law enforcement has," Norton said. "There is no way they are going to qualified, they are teachers."

 Chalmette Representative Ray Garofalo is the bill's author. He says teachers and administrators would need a concealed handgun permit and undergo training before they are allowed to bring a weapon to school. He says the bill's main goal is to make criminals think twice before going on a killing spree at a school.
"When we have a sign out front that says gun free zone, it's like a welcome sign," Garofalo said. "This is the place you want to go, if you want to kill as many people as possible before the police arrive to stop you."
New Iberia Representative Terry Landry, is a former State Police commander, and he also voiced his opposition to Garofalo's proposal. Landry says teachers chose their profession to be teachers and not police officers.
"We are putting our children and community at risk when we just blatantly give the authority for people to carry guns in schools," Landry said.
Garofalo saw there was enough opposition that he voluntarily deferred the bill and will try to come up with another proposal. 
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Man shot and killed by police after attacking his mother

Michelle Southern reporting.
State Police say they are investigating an officer involved shooting for the Tangipahoa Parish Sheriff's Department in which a male suspect, who was found attacking his mother was fatally shot by law enforcement.

 Trooper Greg Marchand says deputies responded to a domestic disturbance at a home in Hammond around 12:30pm Tuesday.
"Upon arrival deputies encountered an armed suspect who was actively engaging in a female victim who we later determined was his mother," said Marchand.

Marchand says the victim, 70-year-old Barbara Nichols, called the sheriff's office to report her son was apparently trying to kill her.

He says first responders arrived to find 48-year-old Michael Nichols brutally assaulting his mother with a weapon.

"And because of the threat of imminent danger and loss of life to the victim, the officers had to use lethal force and they fatally wounded the suspect," Marchand said.

Marchand says the suspect was pronounced dead at the scene by the Tangipahoa Parish Coroner.

Barbara Nichols was taken to a hospital with moderate injuries. Motive has not yet been determined.
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Two bodies found in burned out vehicle in Vermilion Parish

Two bodies were found inside a vehicle that was on fire in Vermilion Parish. Sheriff deputies made the gruesome discovery at around one o' clock this morning. Major Darryl LeBlanc, with the Vermilion Parish Sheriff's Deputies says it will take awhile before they are able to positively ID the victims.

"I can tell you that the bodies were burned beyond recognition," Leblanc said. "Not able to tell race or sex." 
LeBlanc says at this time the deaths are considered suspicious, but there are more questions than answers than at this time. He says more clues will be developed, when an autopsy on the bodies is completed. 
The Acadiana Crime Lab, State Fire Marshal's Office and State Police is assisting in the investigation.

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McAllister to spend Easter holiday with wife and family

Embattled US Representative Vance McAllister will not make any public appearances this week, but he will return to work in Washington D-C when Congress returns from a two-week holiday recess. That's according to a statement released by his office.

McAllister has not been seen publicly since video was made public that showed him kissing a staffer that was also married. In a written statement,  his office said McAllister is with his wife and family for the rest of the Easter recess.
Several republicans, including Governor Bobby Jindal and party chairman Roger Villere, have called for McAllister's resignation. But publisher of lapolitics.com John Maginnis says McAllister should finish out his term, which expires at the end of this year. 
"I think the people of the 5th Congressional District don't deserve to have two Congressmen quit on them in one term," Maginnis said. "Now whether or not Vance McAllister runs for re-election that's another matter."
McAllister was elected last fall, when Rodney Alexander resigned and accepted the job as Secretary of Louisiana Department of Veterans Affairs.
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Measure to scrap Louisiana's anti-sodomy law fails on House floor

Michelle Southern reporting.
A bill that would take the unenforceable anti-sodomy law off Louisiana's books did not pass on the House floor Tuesday. The legislation by Baton Rouge Representative Patricia Smith only got 27 yes votes and needed 53 to pass. Denham Springs Representative Valarie Hodges spoke in opposition of the measure.
(pictured: DS Rep. Valarie Hodges)

"This is an established law that protects children," says Hodges. "It also protects minors and protects all of us from public displays of indecency."

Anti-Sodomy laws were invalidated nationwide by the US Supreme Court in 2003. But Hodges says these rules have been in place in Louisiana for over 200 years and she was not elected to "rubber stamp" decisions made by the Supreme Court.

"If that was the case we could all go home. We're here to upload the laws of what's right and wrong," Hodges said.

Other opponents have argued that making sodomy technically legal in Louisiana puts juveniles at risk and could potentially expose children to indecency.

Smith says police don't need to be wasting time entrapping people in parks and making arrests for a crime that is not punishable.

"Our law enforcement are people that you hire in your cities and parishes to protect you," Smith said. "And in order for them to protect you they should not be relying on unconstitutional laws when they can't even prosecute the individuals that they bring forward."

The bill failed by a vote of 67-27.

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BPSO: Wife in jail for conspiring to kill husband with another man

Michelle Southern reporting.
The Bossier Parish Sheriff's Office says a woman is under arrest for conspiring to kill her husband with another man. Lt. Bill Davis says the alleged plan was to have 43-year-old Patrick Pierce break into the couple's home in Haughton while they were sleeping, murder the husband then tie up the wife to make it look like a home invasion.
(Sims & Pierce pictured; source: BPSO)

"Of course they never got that far in their plan," said Davis. "The husband became startled and disarmed the man which is what ultimately foiled their attempt."

Davis says initially deputies were called to the home Sunday morning to respond to an on-going home invasion. He says they interviewed the couple who told investigators that an alleged robber entered their home with a gun and that the husband was able to wrestle the weapon away.

Davis says they continued their investigation and the wife, 31-year-old Cassie Sims and Pierce confessed to their plot about 24 hours later.

He says they were each arrested for conspiracy to commit 2-degree murder and a host of other charges.

"Pierce was a convicted felon so he was also given the charge of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon," said Pierce. "But since Sims supplied the weapon and ammunition to him, she was also charged with supplying a felon with a firearm as well as ammunition and solicitation for murder since she asked this man to kill her husband."
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Senate committee approves a bill to restrict the use of drones

A senate committee approves a bill to ban the use of drones to photograph people on private property without permission, but a couple of lawmakers have concerns. The measure contains several exceptions, including for law enforcement. But Benton Senator Robert Adley says the bill could also hurt the media's ability to cover a news event.

"They (media) can't be there for bank robbery or anything else," Adley said.
The proposal is by Baton Rouge Senator Dan Claitor, who says the media's ability to cover a big story would not be hampered by this legislation. 
Claitor also added that the First Amendment doesn't trump the Fourth Amendment.
Despite the concerns, the bill passed without objection and heads to the Senate floor.

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Bill increasing penalties for heroin convictions advances to Senate Floor

Michelle Southern reporting.
The State Senate Judiciary Committee approves legislation by Senator Dan Claitor that would set maximum prison sentences for possession or distribution of heroin to 99 years. The Baton Rouge lawmaker says heroin use is becoming a major problem in Louisiana and the rising number of deaths from overdoses is extremely alarming.

"The coroner gave some graphic testimony about how they're arriving on the scene to collect kids who still have needles in their arms and overdosed on this stuff," said Claitor.
A judge would still be able to dictate the sentence based on the circumstances, this bill would just allow them to impose 99 years if they choose.

Currently those convicted on heroin charges couldn't get more than 50 years but Claitor says that's not enough. He says Louisiana needs to send a strong message that possessing or selling heroin is a serious crime here.

"If you want to kill a snake you don't cut the tail off you cut the head off," Claitor said.

Claitor says since it's becoming harder for people to access opiates through pharmacies and doctors due to a major state crackdown, users are turning to heroin.

He says more awareness needs be spread to Louisianians emphasizing what a very dangerous drug this is.

"The people who are distributing heroin in my view are distributing death sentences," said Claitor. "When people are addicted to heroin, they never get off of it."
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Jindal/DHH announce launch of new health initiative campaign

Michelle Southern reporting.
The Jindal Administration launches a campaign that encourages schools, businesses and restaurants to help Louisiana citizens live healthier. Jindal says it's called the "Well-Ahead Health Initiative" and those entities that choose to participate would be considered a "Well Spot" if they meet a certain amount of criteria set forth by DHH.

"This includes making changes like going tobacco free, providing access to gyms or simply offering healthy food choices," Jindal said. "These are places where Louisiana residents and consumers can go to knowing that they're health and wellness have been made a priority."

Jindal says DHH will publicly recognize each entity that becomes a "Well Spot" so that visitors know they are making a smart choice in bringing their business to a place that cares about their health.

He says this is all about making a person's health and wellness a NO. 1 so that Louisianians can live a longer, happier life.

"And we're not standing here and saying you can't enjoy our great food and culture," said Jindal. "It's all about moderation."

Jindal says this initiative is going to go a long way towards improving the nutrition of Louisianians.

DHH Secretary Kathy Kliebert says one of the Well-Ahead goals is to empower Bayou State citizens to make informed decisions on where they choose to eat, work and play.

"I think all of us can do this by making little small changes in our lifestyle," Kliebert says. "Whether it's changes we make on a yearly basis or a monthly basis...little changes we make in our lifestyle will help us all live longer."

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Spring takes a break, as cold air returns

Chilly weather is back in the bayou state today as a result of that strong cold front that produced severe weather across the state yesterday. State Climatologist Barry Keim says make sure you have a jacket with you today as highs will only be in the low 60s.

"In fact I would expect most places to be 60,61,62 degrees and that should be uniform across the state," Keim said. "Afternoon temperatures will bounce up a little bit, but tomorrow morning will be even colder than this morning."
Keim says the good news is that the cold weather should only last for a couple of days, as spring line weather returns on Thursday.

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