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'Front loaded' TOPS isn’t fully funded next year; here’s how that shakes out for students

The Advocate file photo: Student make their way around LSU's campus on Field House Drive.

For the first time, a TOPS scholarship will not cover the cost of tuition for students attending Louisiana’s public colleges and universities. The Louisiana Legislature on Thursday passed a budget for the upcoming school year that does not fully fund the $300 million Taylor Opportunity Program for Students. The state is funding the program at… Continue reading →

Accused killer is father of slain Baton Rouge school administrator's unborn child, police report

Lyntell Washington

The fetus inside the body of a woman found slain in a sugar cane field June 14 was fathered by the man accused in the killing, a Baton Rouge Police Department official said, citing findings from a crime lab report released Thursday. But a lawyer for Robert Jovantie Marks said the evidence doesn’t link his client… Continue reading →

North Carolina man pleads guilty to possession of child porn involving a Lafayette-area minor

A North Carolina man pleaded guilty Thursday to possessing a sexually explicit image of a Lafayette minor, U.S. Attorney Stephanie Finley’s Office announced on Friday. Eric Teague, 47, of Granite Falls, pleaded guilty to contacting a Lafayette-area minor through social media and receiving a sexually explicit image from the minor in January 2015, according to a news… Continue reading →

Sheriff calls on FBI to investigate forceful arrest of alleged 'cold-blooded' cop killer Neveaux

Jerman Neveaux's mugshot after his release from the hospital.

Jefferson Parish Sheriff Newell Normand has asked federal authorities to investigate whether his officers used excessive force in their arrest this week of the young man accused of fatally shooting Deputy David F. Michel Jr. — an inquiry prompted by a cellphone video that shows deputies repeatedly striking the 19-year-old as they wrestled him into custody.… Continue reading →

Report: Baton Rouge man leads police on high-speed chase on I-110 that ends at Krispy Kreme

Steven Hardy

A Baton Rouge man led police on a high-speed chase northbound on Interstate 110 Thursday night, causing other drivers to maneuver to avoid crashing with him before he was subdued and arrested in a Krispy Kreme parking lot, police said. Detectives with the Baton Rouge Police Narcotics Division were patrolling near the 3800 block of Baton Rouge… Continue reading →

Man, 53, accused of raping, molesting juvenile over a period of years

Tommy Atkins

A Baton Rouge man was booked Thursday into East Baton Rouge Parish Prison on counts of aggravated rape, molestation of a juvenile, sexual battery and oral sexual battery for acts over several years, beginning when the victim was 11 or 12, police said. The attacks by Tommy Atkins, 53, began sometime between 2009 and 2011 at City-Brooks… Continue reading →

Lafayette residents want to help detectives find who killed Ashley Metz and Brouklynn Hill, whose bodies were discovered Tuesday in separate burned cars

Ashley Metz, left, and Brouklynn Hil

Volunteers want to bring major attention to the slayings of Ashley Metz and Brouklynn Hill, and they plan to meet Monday to plot publicity efforts they hope will help solve the case. Metz, 23, and Hill, 22, both from Lafayette, were the victims found inside separate burning cars this week in rural Lafayette Parish, according to… Continue reading →

Candle left burning in vacant Lafayette house causes fire, portion of Evangeline Thruway closed

A woman living inside a vacant home in Lafayette left a candle unattended Friday afternoon, leading to a fire that closed a portion of the Evangeline Thruway near rush-hour traffic, according to the Lafayette Fire Department. Firefighters responded to the fire in the 1200 block of the Southeast Evangeline Thruway shortly before 5 p.m. and found heavy… Continue reading →

Convicted New Orleans candy snatcher now officially faces 20-years-to-life sentence, though DA cites wiggle room

Jacobia Grimes

Jacobia Grimes, a serial shoplifter who was convicted this month of attempted theft after stuffing $31 worth of candy into his pockets at a New Orleans dollar store, now formally faces a mandatory prison sentence of 20 years to life under the state’s habitual-offender law. Orleans Parish District Attorney Leon Cannizzaro’s office filed a “multiple bill”… Continue reading →

Baton Rouge man injured in shooting later booked on felony weapons counts

Travis Cobbs

A Baton Rouge man who was treated at a hospital for a nonlife-threatening gunshot wound in the early morning hours Friday was later arrested on felony firearms counts. East Baton Rouge sheriff’s deputies responding to a call about a shooting at 17232 Jefferson Highway around 1:30 a.m. Friday found Travis Cobbs, 27, of that address, wounded… Continue reading →

Baton Rouge, New Orleans, Lafayette area Business Honors for June 26, 2016

Judge Glenn B. Ansardi, 24th Judicial District Court

The Greater Baton Rouge Food Bank was recognized as a 4-Star Charity by Charity Navigator, an independent charity evaluator. The top rating means a charity exceeds industry standards and outperforms most charities in its cause. Charity Navigator determines the overall rating of a nonprofit based on its financial health, accountability and transparency.… Continue reading →

Lafayette arrest report for June 24

Arrests posted June 24, 2016, on the Lafayette Parish Sheriff’s website. RICHARD JOSEPH ALFRED: 21, of the 100 block of Brina Lane, Carencro. He was booked on aggravated battery; armed robbery; attempted armed robbery; use of firearm; and misdemeanor Schedule I narcotics. WEST ARION: 32, of the 400 block of West St. Patrick… Continue reading →

Initial unemployment claims in Louisiana fall

First-time claims for unemployment insurance in Louisiana for the week ending June 18 decreased to 2,822 from the previous week’s total of 3,445. The state labor department said there were 2,731 a year earlier. The four-week moving average, which is a less volatile measure of claims, decreased to 3,249 from the previous week’s total of 3,335.… Continue reading →

Kirklands opens Juban Crossing store

Home decor retailer Kirkland’s will have a grand opening Saturday for its Juban Crossing store at 27853 Juban Road in Denham Springs. This is the third Kirkland’s store in metro Baton Rouge, joining locations at the Mall of Louisiana and Towne Center. Kirkland’s has nearly 400 locations in 36 states.… Continue reading →

U.S. rig count down 3; Louisiana drops five

The number of rigs exploring for oil and natural gas in the U.S. declined by three this week to 421, snapping three weeks of gains after a slide that lasted months and pushed the count to record-low levels amid depressed energy prices. A year ago, 859 rigs were active. Houston oilfield services… Continue reading →

LSU, SU boards give blessing to becoming growers of medical marijuana

The LSU and Southern University agricultural centers both officially have signed on to be the state’s growers of medical marijuana. On Friday, both system boards independently approved measures to pursue licensing, which will make Louisiana’s public universities the first in the country to be authorized as the sole growers and researchers for the state.… Continue reading →

Fire marshal, Ascension Parish deputies release video of man who may have torched a stolen car

Photo provided by Ascension Parish Sheriff's Office -- This man, walking into a St. Gabriel convenience store Tuesday, June 21, had been seen in a car stolen from a Gonzales-area neighborhood that same day, Ascension Parish sheriff's deputies said Friday. The car was later found burned behind the Mississippi River levee in St. Gabriel. Other vehicles on Lillie Valley Drive, where the burned car was stolen, were burglarized early Tuesday, deputies said.

Ascension Parish sheriff’s deputies and the Louisiana State Fire Marshal’s Office are investigating why a car stolen from a neighborhood south of Gonzales was found burned this week behind the Mississippi River levee in Iberville Parish. Sheriff’s deputies provided surveillance video Friday of a man walking into a nearby convenience store who… Continue reading →

Seven of 11 people accused in major California-to-Baton Rouge heroin pipeline have admitted to their role in the operation

A California man admitted this week in federal court that he transported more than 30,000 heroin pills, disguised to resemble oxycodone, to Baton Rouge over a 14-month period beginning in early 2014. Efrain Barajas, 27, of Hesperia, California, on Thursday became the seventh of 11 defendants indicted last fall in the major multistate heroin… Continue reading →

Baton Rouge gains 5,600 jobs in past year

Baton Rouge added 5,600 nonfarm jobs over the 12 months ending May 31, leading the state’s metro areas in job growth, while Lafayette lost 8,100 jobs and New Orleans 1,600. Metro-area jobs losses were driven largely by the oil and gas industry’s skid. In addition to the losses suffered in Lafayette and New Orleans, Houma-Thibodaux and Shreveport-Bossier… Continue reading →

Four booked on DWI in East Baton Rouge from Thursday to Friday

Authorities arrested at least four people suspected of driving while intoxicated in East Baton Rouge Parish and booked them into Parish Prison between noon Thursday and noon Friday. Those booked and the counts against them: — Bryan Whittington, 45, 8824 Munson Road, Zachary, first-offense DWI, license plate light required. — Nathaniel… Continue reading →

'Front loaded' TOPS isn’t fully funded next year; here’s how that shakes out for students

The Advocate file photo: Student make their way around LSU's campus on Field House Drive.

For the first time, a TOPS scholarship will not cover the cost of tuition for students attending Louisiana’s public colleges and universities. The Louisiana Legislature on Thursday passed a budget for the upcoming school year that does not fully fund the $300 million Taylor Opportunity Program for Students. The state is funding the program at… Continue reading →

Assumption Parish man, 47, accused of molesting 6-year-old girl

Tommy Lishman

An Assumption Parish man admitted to touching a 6-year-old inappropriately and was arrested this week after an informant had warned authorities the girl was being molested by him, parish sheriff’s deputies said Friday. Tommy E. Lishman, 47, told Assumption deputies he inappropriately touched the girl on more than one occasion at… Continue reading →

Gov. John Bel Edwards sets criteria for lucrative tax breaks for manufacturers

Advocate Photo by MARK BALLARD  Edgar Cage of Together Louisiana addresses Friday supporters of changes to approval processes for Industrial Tax Exemptions outside a crowded meeting of the state Board of Commerce and Industry.

After four decades of automatically approving applications to exempt large manufacturers from local property taxes, Gov. John Bel Edwards announced Friday he would start closely vetting industrial tax exemption requests before signing them. The governor said the tax exemptions are not closely monitored, require no performance standards and have been given out willy-nilly for decades.… Continue reading →

'Uncertainty' surrounds Louisiana’s ninth-largest trade partner, major in-state investor following Brexit

Associated Press photo by ANTHONY DEVLIN -- Vote Leave supporters celebrate as they walk through Parliament Square in London, Friday. Britain entered uncharted waters after the country voted to leave the European Union.

The only thing certain about Britain’s exit from the European Union is “uncertainty” for a country that is Louisiana’s ninth-largest trading partner and a major investor in the state. The U.K. also is a substantial source of tourists. New Orleans is the second-most popular entry point for English visitors to the United States behind only New York.… Continue reading →

AG Jeff Landry says Louisiana will review case of arrested cord-whipping Baton Rouge mother

Schaquana Evita Spears ORG XMIT: BAT1606211547290488

Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry is jumping into the case involving the arrest of a Baton Rouge woman accused of whipping her children with a cord after the boys broke into a neighbor’s home, and he said he will try to arrange a meeting with the mother’s attorneys. “Because the state faces potential liability… Continue reading →

Julia Roberts as Louisiana ex-Gov. Kathleen Blanco? Report says she’s considering ‘American Crime Story’ role

Former La. Gov. Kathleen Blanco (2006 file photo), actress Julia Roberts (AP photo)

Julia Roberts as ... former Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Blanco? That could happen, according to a report by, which says the “Erin Brockovich” and "Pretty Woman" actress is seriously considering the role in a second season of the television series “American Crime Story,” which will focus on the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. RadarOnline,… Continue reading →

Albemarle joining S&P 500

Specialty chemicals maker Albemarle Corp. will join the S&P 500 after the close of trading on June 30. The move coincides with the expected completion date of Emera Inc.’s acquisition of TECO Energy, according to S&P Dow Jones Indices. The S&P 500 measures the value of the stocks of the 500 largest companies by market capitalization and… Continue reading →

Videos: Britain votes to leave EU: Cameron to resign; markets rocked; here’s what happens next

Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron speaks outside 10 Downing Street, London as his wife Samantha looks on Friday, June 24, 2016. Cameron says he will resign by the time of party conference in the fall after  Britain voted to leave the European Union after a bitterly divisive referendum campaign, according to tallies of official results Friday. (Lauren Hurley/PA via AP) UNITED KINGDOM OUT, NO SALES, NO ARCHIVE

LONDON (AP) — Britain voted to leave the European Union after a bitterly divisive referendum campaign, toppling the prime minister Friday, sending global markets plunging and shattering the stability of a project in continental unity designed half a century ago to prevent World War III. The decision launches a yearslong process to renegotiate trade, business and political… Continue reading →

Spare the rod? Welfare chief, attorney for arrested Baton Rouge mom differ on what constitutes child abuse

Schaquana Evita Spears tears up in an interview with WBRZ-TV while explaining why she allegedly whipped her children after catching them burglarizing a home. (file photo)

The way to tell when disciplining a child has gone too far is when a child is left bleeding or with cuts, burns or bruises, the state’s top child welfare official said Thursday. Department of Children and Family Services Secretary Marketa Garner Walters said in a statement that she felt “compelled to address a question many… Continue reading →

Possible big cut coming for TOPS in spring as Louisiana budget deal reached, special legislative session ends

Advocate staff photo by PATRICK DENNIS --Gov. John Bel Edwards, left, shakes hands with Senate President John Alario, R-Westwego, right, after the Senate passed the $263 Million spending bill, HB-69, on the last day of the second special second legislative session.

Update, 1:08 a.m. Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards got less than half the $600 million he sought for schools, hospitals, the TOPS scholarships and other programs during the 18-day special legislative session that ended just before midnight Thursday. A final effort to raise $88 million more by ending an individual income tax break sank Thursday… Continue reading →

Big question for Gov. John Bel Edwards: Will he veto TOPS language that funds scholarships in fall, slashes in spring?

Advocate Photo by MARK BALLARD -- Gov. John Bel Edwards told reporters Friday that he hopes the Richardson report encourages legislators to raise more revenue. He has been asking lawmakers to close during the special legislative session is actually $800 million.

Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards wouldn’t say early Friday morning whether he plans to veto language inserted into a supplemental budget bill that would effectively fund the Taylor Opportunity Program for Students scholarships fully for the fall semester and less than half for the spring semester. The so-called “front-loading” language was added in the final hours of… Continue reading →

76ers make Ben Simmons first No. 1 pick from LSU since 1992

Associated Press photo by FRANK FRANKLIN II -- LSU's Ben Simmons raises his hand as he walks off the stage after being selected by the Philadelphia 76ers on Thursday.

PHILADELPHIA — Ben Simmons was signing 76ers jerseys and eating cheesesteaks before he was even drafted. He’ll wear a team uniform for real soon enough. With the great hope he can lift one of the worst franchises in professional sports, the Philadelphia 76ers took Simmons with the No. 1 pick in the NBA draft on Thursday… Continue reading →

Death penalty not sought against two men accused of killing Highland Road couple during robbery, DA decides

Ernesto Llerena Alonso, left, and Frank Garcia

Family members of an elderly couple killed in their Highland Road home made a “gut-wrenching” decision after meeting with prosecutors over whether the death penalty should be sought against the two men charged with first-degree murder in the Oct. 19 killings. There will be no death penalty phase in the trial, East Baton Rouge District Attorney… Continue reading →

Baton Rouge woman, 71, accused of abusing wheelchair-bound man

Eliabeth "Janie" Ponthieux

A 71-year-old woman was booked into the East Baton Rouge Parish Prison on counts of cruelty to the infirm and domestic battery after allegedly tipping an elderly relative out of his wheelchair and otherwise tormenting him. Elizabeth “Janie” Ponthieux “would scratch (the victim) on his arms and face, kick him in the shin and push him out… Continue reading →