Teen pleads not guilty in St. James High shooting, also faces rape, assault charges

A Convent teen pleaded not guilty Monday to counts stemming from a Jan. 14 shooting outside St. James High School shortly after an evening boys varsity basketball game between St. James and Lutcher high schools, the youth’s attorney said.

Prosecutors accused Kylin Dashawn Elder, 17, 9361 Water Tower St., of sitting in a car in a parking lot outside the school gym.

Minutes after most of the spectators had gone home, Elder fired several times at Cowan Franklin, then 19, of Lutcher, hitting him at least three times, sheriff’s deputies have said.

Prosecutors charged Elder on March 7 by bills of information with single felony counts of attempted second-degree murder, carrying a firearm or dangerous weapon at a school and illegal use of a weapon. Elder was also charged with a misdemeanor count of simple criminal damage to property.

Sheriff deputies said Elder and Cowan were on opposite sides of a regional rivalry between youths in Convent and Lutcher. Neither teen attended St. James High. Cowan was at senior at Lutcher High.

Elder’s attorney, Seth Dornier, said his client also pleaded not guilty Monday to a separate aggravated rape charge against him, stemming from an incident last fall.

Elder pleaded not guilty to the count on Feb. 24 as a juvenile, but prosecutors are trying Elder as an adult on that count, so Elder entered the plea again Monday, Dornier said.

Dornier claimed Elder was grossly overcharged on that incident. Dornier declined comment on the Jan. 14 shooting charges until prosecutors provide him with more information.

Elder entered his pleas before Judge Guy Holdridge of the 23rd Judicial District at the St. James Parish Courthouse in Convent. The district encompasses St. James, Ascension and Assumption parishes.

Elder is also facing aggravated assault with a firearm and illegal use of a weapon counts from a Aug. 10 shooting. He pleaded not guilty to those charges Oct. 28.

Assistant District Attorney Kenneth Dupaty told Holdridge on Monday that prosecutors have offered Elder a two-year deal on those counts.

But Holdridge did not see the wisdom in that idea with the other charges Elder is also facing.

“That would be a foolish plea,” Holdridge said.

Elder remains in St. James Parish Jail in Convent.