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Pointe Coupee School Board may ask judge to force the state to pay for repairs to Central High

The Pointe Coupee Parish School Board is hoping to recoup nearly $1.9 million from the state’s Recovery School District for much-needed repairs at Pointe Coupee Central High School, the site of the district’s proposed Science, Technology, Engineering, Math and Arts Academy. And the board is hoping the federal judge… Continue reading →

Around the Westside for Dec. 17, 2014

The city of Plaquemine is offering online payment options for city utility bills. The new service is expected to make it easier for customers to pay their electricity, water, natural gas and sewer bills, city officials said. A maroon-colored icon titled “Pay My Utility Bill” is located on the right side of the city’s… Continue reading →

Port Allen man arrested, accused of trying to arrange killing of man, his wife

Tommy Joe Gioele

A Port Allen man who sought to hire a hitman to kill a Pointe Coupee couple over a soured business deal found himself behind bars on Tuesday after the would-be hitman went to police and turned informant, police said. Tommy Joe Gioele, 37, 5242 Poydras Bayou Road, was booked into West Baton… Continue reading →

Ask The Advocate: Bayou pumps and bikes

Photo provided by the City of Plaquemine -- The pumps at Bayou Plaquemine Lock.

Q: Is there any plan to utilize the pumps at the Bayou Plaquemine Locks on a regular basis for revitalizing Bayou Plaquemine? I had high hopes the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers pump project would improve the health of the bayou but am afraid, though not surprised, it has been a mega-waste of… Continue reading →

Iberville deputy accused of television thefts on Black Friday

An Iberville Parish sheriff’s deputy was arrested Friday in the theft of two large-screen televisions from a local business on Black Friday, Sheriff Brett Stassi said. Ken Garner, 45, was booked into the parish jail on felony theft and malfeasance in office for his alleged participation in stealing 52-inch and 65-inch… Continue reading →

Around the Westside for Dec. 10, 2014

The West Baton Rouge Parish Library is offering evening classes in the popular Computers Operation, Internet Navigation and Software program of basic computer skills every Tuesday from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. in the library’s meeting room. The new classes are being offered in addition to the daytime COIN classes the library has held… Continue reading →

West Baton Rouge judge suspended for accepting free trip from attorney

Judge J. Robin Free

District Judge J. Robin Free has been suspended without pay for 30 days for accepting an all-expense-paid trip from a Texas attorney whose client was awarded a $1.2 million settlement in a personal injury lawsuit tried in the judge’s court. The disciplinary action against Free, a judge in the judicial district that covers the parishes of… Continue reading →

East Iberville gets new satellite office for ambulance service

Advocate staff photo by TERRY JONES -- Iberville Parish officials on Monday held a ribbon-cutting ceremony for a new modular facility, located along River Road in St. Gabriel, that will serve as a satellite office for Acadian Ambulance. Officials say the new facility will reduce ambulance response times in the east Iberville area by at least 10 minutes or more.

Emergency medical response times are about to become significantly shorter in eastern Iberville Parish thanks to the opening of a new facility for Acadian Ambulance that will be staffed 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Iberville Parish Sheriff Brett Stassi and a host of parish and… Continue reading →

Around the Westside for Nov. 25, 2014

Port Allen city officials are bringing back BonFest this year as they seek to use the Christmas holiday festival and levee bonfires to build a sense of community. The city will host this year’s BonFest on Dec. 23 in front of City Hall on Court Street.… Continue reading →

Jury finds Monique Kitts, Karl Howard guilty in murder-for-hire case

Advocate staff photo by ANGELA MAJOR -- Monique Kitts sits in the back of a police unit after being found guilty Thursday, Nov. 20, 2014, at the Port Allen courthouse.

The monthlong trial for a woman accused of killing her husband in a murder-for-hire scheme came to an end Thursday when a West Baton Rouge Parish jury found her and the gunman she hired guilty of second-degree murder. Monique O. Kitts, 45, of Livingston, and Karl Michael… Continue reading →

New Roads mayor Robert Myer rings up $130K-plus in credit card charges; receipts lacking

Advocate staff photo by PATRICK DENNIS -- New Roads mayor Robert Myer speaks in his office Tuesday about discrepancies in his use of the city credit card. The exterior of the New Roads City Hall building.

New Roads Mayor Robert Myer has rung up nearly $134,000 in charges on his city credit card over the past four years, records show, including thousands spent on personal purchases ranging from movie theater tickets to Wal-Mart and Sam’s Club shopping trips and restaurant visits. Myer has reimbursed the city for… Continue reading →

Around the Westside for Nov. 19, 2014

The West Baton Rouge Museum is kicking off its holiday season Dec. 7 with a Louisiana-themed holiday Open House. Visitors will have an opportunity to enjoy warm open-hearth fragrances coming from the Allendale Cabin during open-hearth cooking demonstrations from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. that day. They also can… Continue reading →

Here's what happened Tuesday, what you can expect Wednesday in Kitts murder-for-hire trial in West Baton Rouge

Advocate staff photo by ANGELA MAJOR -- Monique O. Kitts exits the West Baton Rouge Parish Courthouse on Thursday, Nov. 6, 2014. ORG XMIT: BAT1411061804042910

Prosecutors called Monique Kitts back to the stand Tuesday afternoon, as the murder-for-hire trial accusing her of paying a man to kill her husband wound down. Monique Kitts was asked not about the 2010 death of her husband, Corey Kitts, but about tax documents she filed… Continue reading →

Around the Westside for Nov. 12, 2014

The West Baton Rouge Healthy Community Coalition recently received a $625,000 grant award from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration that will be used over the next five years to implement the Drug-Free Communities program. The grant’s purpose is to enhance community collaboration to reduce substance abuse among youth under the age of 18.… Continue reading →

Resumption of Monique Kitts murder-for-hire trial postponed a week

Advocate staff photo by ANGELA MAJOR -- Monique O. Kitts exits the West Baton Rouge Parish Courthouse on Thursday, Nov. 6, 2014. ORG XMIT: BAT1411061804042910

The murder-for-hire trial of Monique O. Kitts, accused of hiring a contract killer to murder her husband, has been continued until Nov. 17. Defense attorneys for Kitts, 45, of Livingston, and Karl Michael Howard, 30, of Roswell, Georgia, were expected to resume their cases at 9 a.m. Monday, but 18th Judicial… Continue reading →

Murder-for-hire Kitts case focuses Wednesday on DNA evidence

Monique Kitts, left, and Karl Howard

Testimony Wednesday in the murder-for-hire trial in the death of Corey Kitts focused on DNA evidence, with defense attorneys implying the person who killed Kitts might have been a lover rather than a hired gunman, and prosecutors suggesting crime scene investigators might have left their own minor traces of DNA on Kitts’… Continue reading →

Lefeaux elected Brusly police chief

After rocket explosion, Iberville students prepare again to send experiment to Space Station

From left, Lilah Morgan, Nicole Warner and Elizabeth Irwin, fifth-grade students at Iberville Math, Science and Arts Academy-West in Plaquemine, work on the science experiment that went up with the Antares rocket. They're skyping with a scientist, as they work.

For three fifth-grade students at the Iberville Math, Science and Arts Academy-West, the explosion Oct. 28 of the Antares rocket bound for the International Space Station was more than headline news — it had a personal significance. On board the unmanned rocket — and destroyed in the explosion… Continue reading →

Around the Westside for Nov. 5, 2014

The Iberville Salute to Veterans will feature some new twists this year, including special performances and the collection of supplies to send to the troops overseas. The event kicks off with pre-ceremony and activities at 3:30 p.m. on Tuesday at the Iberville Veterans Memorial on Railroad Avenue in Plaquemine, followed by the ceremony at 4:30… Continue reading →

Cell phone records detail general whereabouts of accused in West Baton Rouge murder-for-hire trial

Monique Kitts

Cellphone data was presented to a West Baton Rouge Parish jury Monday detailing the possible whereabouts of several people suspected as major players in an elaborate murder-for-hire case involving a woman prosecutors believe had her husband killed so she could cash in on $800,000 in insurance and retirement benefits.… Continue reading →

Jurors hear 9-1-1 call in Addis murder-for-hire case

Advocate staff photo by PATRICK DENNIS -- The family of Corey Kitts leaves the courthouse in Port Allen for lunch Wednesday, Oct. 29, 2014, on the third day of the second-degree murder-for-hire trial of Kitts' wife Monique O. Kitts and Karl Michael Howard.

When Monique O. Kitts discovered the body of her husband, who had been shot to death in their bed on July 9, 2010, she made a frantic 911 call. “Oh my God! Help me! My husband is dead! Someone is in my house!” Kitts’ voice echoed through the courtroom Friday as… Continue reading →

Baton Rouge man arrested in Port Allen murder

Police arrested a Baton Rouge man Thursday and are trying to determine whether a second person was involved in a fatal shooting Monday night in Port Allen, Chief Esdron Brown said Thursday. Police arrested Javonte T. Morgan, 19, on counts of first-degree murder, attempted first-degree murder and armed robbery, Brown said.… Continue reading →

Key witness in WBR murder-for-hire trial admits being getaway driver

Advocate staff photo by PATRICK DENNIS -- The family of Corey Kitts leaves the courthouse in Port Allen for lunch Wednesday, Oct. 29, 2014, on the third day of the second-degree murder-for-hire trial of Kitts' wife Monique O. Kitts and Karl Michael Howard.

The prosecution’s star witness, the man who admitted he was the getaway driver in a murder-for-hire, testified Thursday he was one of the people approached to do the deed. Corey Knox, 29, told a West Baton Rouge Parish jury that Karl Michael Howard 30, of Roswell, Georgia, asked him if he… Continue reading →

What to expect in Kitts murder trial Thursday: Alleged co-conspirator will testify

Advocate staff photo by PATRICK DENNIS -- The family of Corey Kitts leaves the courthouse in Port Allen for lunch Wednesday, Oct. 29, 2014, on the third day of the second-degree murder-for-hire trial of Kitts' wife Monique O. Kitts and Karl Michael Howard.

A key witness in the case against a man and woman accused of killing the woman’s husband in a murder-for-hire conspiracy will take the stand despite an attempt Wednesday by defense attorneys to have him barred from testifying against his alleged co-conspirators. Shortly after the jury was dismissed Wednesday afternoon in… Continue reading →

Sheriff: Woman in critical condition after Pigeon Coop bar co-owner tosses her out

Caleb Thurman

Iberville Parish sheriff’s deputies jailed a Bayou Pigeon man Tuesday after he shoved a woman out the door of his bar over the weekend with enough force that she fell, landed on her head and suffered a serious injury, Sheriff Brett Stassi said. Deputies arrested Caleb Thurman, 24, a co-owner of the Pigeon Coop bar, on… Continue reading →

One dead, another wounded in Port Allen shooting Monday night

PORT ALLEN — Two men were shot Monday night when they went to Port Allen to buy drugs, but the drug dealer attempted to rob them instead, Police Chief Esdron Brown said Tuesday. Police on Tuesday continued to interview witnesses to the incident, which occurred about 9:30 p.m., Brown said. They have not yet identified… Continue reading →

Aldrich ‘Tudy’ Dupree, a force in Iberville politics, dies at age 76

Former Iberville Parish Police Juror, Aldrich

Aldrich “Tudy” Dupree, the first black president of the Iberville Parish Police Jury in the modern era, died Sunday morning at Baton Rouge General Medical Center. Dupree, 76, fell last Tuesday and broke his hip; he had been paralyzed for 12 years on the other side of his body after a series of strokes, family members… Continue reading →

Iberville President wants closer inspection of new medical complex

Advocate staff photo by PATRICK DENNIS -- Adrianne Crouse, from Baton Rouge, inspects the .50-caliber waist machine gun in the B-24

Iberville Parish President J. Mitchell Ourso informed the Council Tuesday night that he wasn’t pleased with some of the construction work being done on a $20 million medical facility and will conduct another walk-through inspection before he signs off on the project’s completion. But Ourso’s displeasure with some of the “finishing touches”… Continue reading →

Around the Westside for Oct. 22, 2014

The West Baton Rouge Museum is preparing for several events in November, beginning Nov. 8 with the opening of “Wild Land: Thomas Cole and the Birth of American Landscape Paintings.” Thomas Cole was a painter and founder of the Hudson River School who is best-known for his landscape paintings of untamed America in the… Continue reading →

Around the Westside for Oct. 15, 2014

The West Baton Rouge Parish Library, West Baton Rouge Museum and Port Allen Community Center promise tricks, treats and terribly fun activities at the organizations’ annual Halloween event from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Friday. The event, which is free and open to the public, will feature storytelling, trick-or-treating and a magic show. Those attending… Continue reading →

Judiciary commission recommends 30-day suspension of West Baton Rouge judge for all-expenses paid hunting trip

Judge J. Robin Free

State District Court Judge J. Robin Free, of Port Allen, showed “poor judgment” and deserves to be punished for taking an all-expenses-paid trip to a hunting ranch owned by a Texas lawyer who only days earlier had settled a lawsuit in Free’s court for $1.2 million, the judge’s attorney acknowledged Monday.… Continue reading →