Appeals court upholds convictions

A Louisiana appeals court on Friday affirmed a Baton Rouge man’s second-degree murder conviction and life prison sentence in the 2010 killing of a Georgia insurance agent during an armed robbery at the Waffle House on South Sherwood Forest Boulevard.

A three-judge panel of the 1st Circuit Court of Appeal also let stand Antonius Londre Jones’ armed robbery conviction and 60-year prison term stemming from the May 3, 2010, incident that claimed the life of David DeMersseman.

DeMersseman, 54, of Valdosta, Ga., was passing through Baton Rouge that day and was the only customer in the restaurant at 2320 S. Sherwood Forest Blvd. when he was shot to death at 1:22 a.m.

Jones, 23, contends the trial evidence was insufficient to support his convictions. He also claims his confession was given while under the influence of drugs and made out of fear.

First Circuit Judges James Kuhn, John Pettigrew and Mike McDonald rejected both arguments in an eight-page written decision.

In his statement to police detectives, Kuhn noted, Jones gave details about having to cross the street to enter the Waffle House, about which hand he held his gun in, and about dropping some money from the register onto the ground.

Three Waffle House employees gave descriptions of the perpetrator that were consistent with Jones’ appearance, Kuhn stated. Also, Jones was located in the suspected getaway car, and the murder weapon — a semiautomatic handgun — was found in the car, the judge said.

Jones attempted to recant his confession through his trial testimony, saying he only confessed because he had taken several drugs and because he was scared of receiving the death penalty.

“Based on the physical evidence, eyewitness testimony and the defendant’s own confession, the jury’s verdicts reflected the reasonable conclusion that defendant shot and killed DeMersseman and robbed the Waffle House,” Kuhn wrote.

State District Judge Lou Daniel presided over Jones’ jury trial and sentenced him. The judge ordered the life term and 60-year sentence to run concurrently.

Daniel sentenced two other men — Larry Sterling Jr., of St. Francisville, and Ikey Lane Washington, of Baton Rouge, both 30 — to 10 years in prison each after they pleaded guilty as accessories to the fatal armed robbery.