Two Orleans men facing murder charges agree to plea deal, will be out in months

Two alleged Gert Town gangsters, who once faced capital murder charges for a 2010 drive-by shooting that left two alleged rivals dead, instead pleaded guilty to conspiracy charges Monday and will serve only a few more months in jail.

Elijah “Bubba” Boyd, 23, and Darrin “Bo Bo” Jones, 22, were alleged members of a Gert Town group that called itself “The Movement.”

They were accused of gunning down two men outside a Central City nightclub in July 2010, in retribution for a stabbing inside Orleans Parish Prison two months earlier, according to court records.

Boyd and Jones stood side-by-side in Criminal District Court on Monday and pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit murder, a crime punishable by up to 30 years in prison.

P rosecutors agreed to nine-year sentences, making them eligible for parole in April, said Jones’ attorney, Martin Regan.

Conspiracy is not considered to be a crime of violence under Louisiana law and thus is not subject to the strict parole limitations imposed on crimes like attempted murder and manslaughter.

Regan said with credit for the three years they spent in Orleans Parish Prison awaiting trial, both men likely will be eligible for parole in about seven months.

The state’s case against the pair began to unravel in May, when prosecutors notified the court that one of their primary witnesses, the man who had identified the two as the shooters, refused to testify.

He said he was no longer confident about the identifications he had made.

The District Attorney’s Office would say Monday only that “an evidentiary issue arose that made it impossible to prosecute the case as a murder.”

Jones and Boyd had been scheduled to go to trial Monday on a charge of second-degree murder. They were arrested in September 2010 and initially booked with capital murder.

Just after 2:30 a.m. on June 27, 2010, Raymond “Red” Marrero, 25, and Justin “Jay” Edwards, 22, were outside the Fox III nightclub on Washington Avenue.

A security camera inside the club captured a car driving by.

The video showed flashes from bullets ricocheting off cars and cement, and the crowd outside diving for cover.

The gunman sprayed the block with bullets. Police would later count 32 spent bullet casings, according to court records.

When the shooting stopped and the car sped away, Marrero and Edwards lay dying on the street.

Edwards was shot in the head, torso, arms and right thigh, court records state. A friend rushed him to a hospital, but his pulse slowed and stopped before he got there. He was pronounced dead within a half-hour of the shooting.

Marrero was shot between 18 and 21 times in the chest and stomach.

He died on July 23, 2010, according to court records.

People at the bar told police they heard the gunfire but saw nothing.

An anonymous tipster told police the shooting was part of an ongoing, bloody turf war between the Gert Town gang and a group from the B.W. Cooper housing development, according to court records.

The tipster named several incidents that allegedly led to the retaliatory shooting: a summer 2009 killing at a West Bank nightclub, the August 2009 killing of a 16-year-old in Central City and an attack on an Orleans Parish Prison inmate called “Boy George” who was stabbed 18 times in the back, until his lungs collapsed and his kidneys failed, according to police reports in the court record.

Police found guns hidden at Boyd’s mother’s house, and others stashed under an abandoned house in Gert Town.

The pair was not arrested until after the witness, who has since recanted, was picked up on a drug charge in September 2010. He told police he was at the club with Edwards and Marrero when he saw Boyd and Jones drive by, pull out their guns and open fire.

He said he watched as Boyd shot Edwards, then ran toward Marrero and shot again.

Boyd stood above Marrero, lying bleeding on the ground, and fired more shots into his body, the witness said, according to court records.

Jones also fired at Edwards, he said.

That witness is in prison on drug charges in central Louisiana and is declining to cooperate with prosecutors.

Chris Bowman, a spokesman for District Attorney Leon Cannizzaro, said Monday that the DA’s office now accepts 85 percent of cases, far higher than under previous district attorneys. “This is going to happen in some cases,” he said. “We would rather get some justice, than refuse the case and not get any justice at all.”

He added that a conspiracy conviction is not covered by double jeopardy protections, and so the office could reinstate the murder charge if the witness changes his mind.

Boyd’s attorney, Martin Regan, said that justice had been served. Jones’ attorney, Kevin Boshea, declined to comment on the plea deal.