NEW ORLEANS — Four teenagers were indicted by a grand jury and will be tried as adults in connection with a fatal carjacking in March that caused a 73-year-old to be dragged by her own car and her arm severed, District Attorney Jason Williams said Thursday.
John Honore, 17, and three teen girls - 15-year-old Lenyra Theophile, 15-year-old Mar'Qel Curtis and 16-year-old Briniyah Baker - were arrested hours after the March 21 carjacking. All four teens are now facing second-degree murder charges as adults.
Conviction on a second-degree murder charge carries a mandatory life sentence. In cases involving murder, the difference between juvenile and adult court could mean the difference between a defendant staying in prison until age 21 versus a life sentence.
Williams said sentencing limits in the juvenile court system would be "inadequate" to hold the teens reponsible for taking a life.
"Our juvenile court system was not designed for this," Williams said. "Four or five years for these criminal actions is not enough."
Police say 73-year-old Linda Frickey died after she became entangled in a seat belt as the carjackers sped away with her car. Her arm was severed after she was dragged about a block away while neighbors looked on helplessly.
A tearful Leanne Mascar and her husband Mark Mascar tried to comfort the victim as she died at the scene. The Orleans Parish Coroner's Office said Frickey's cause of death was "blunt force injuries."
“I was telling this woman to hang in there,” Mark Mascar said. “Every time I heard a siren, I was hoping and praying that was an ambulance.”
Bond for the teens was set at $1 million each, according to the District Attorney's Office.
Williams, who had campaigned on a reform platform that included not charging juveniles as adults, has made exceptions since taking office in cases involving high-profile violent crimes. There had been some thought that not all the accused would be tried as adults, but Williams said Thursday that all of the teens played significant roles in Frickey's death.
"There was a decision to encircle and prey on a woman that was clearly an elder, by all four individuals," Williams said. "Then there was kicking and punching. All of the individuals got inside of the vehicle, which was a weapon in this case, and dragged her, despite her cries for help. And not a single one did anything to disengage or walk away."
After announcing the teen's arrest last month, New Orleans Police Superintendent Shaun Ferguson said he'd recommend that all teens be charged as adults.
"I will ask that they be charged as adults. I mean, look at the nature of the crime," Ferguson said.
Williams met with Frickey's relatives earlier this month who told the district attorney that they wanted the case to be transferred to state court so that the teens could be tried as adults.
WWL-TV obtained Honore's criminal history that shows that he has been in juvenile court a number of times over the past several years. The history shows at least seven prior arrests on more than 25 charges dating back to his first arrest for criminal damage to property at age 12. The charges include armed robbery, possession of a firearm, auto theft, flight from an officer and – in one case alone –18 burglaries related to car break-ins.