Lawyer Bill Aaron, a former city attorney under Mayor Sidney Barthelemy, raised a few eyebrows recently when he posted support for Republican state Rep. Debbie Villio’s House Bill 321, the Truth and Transparency Act, which would make public the criminal records of juveniles over the age of 13 who commit violent crimes in Orleans and other large parishes. Several of Aaron’s social media followers, including former Judge Ron Sholes and former Criminal Magistrate Marie Bookman, disagreed and suggested the bill targeted juveniles only in majority-Black parishes and at too young an age.
A separate WDSU-TV news report Tuesday evening (May 30) pointed to the high percentage of Black homicide victims in New Orleans. Councilmember Oliver Thomas, who was interviewed for the story, blamed those murders in part on systemic racism and a lack of resources. Who is committing these crimes? More often than not, other Black males — many of whom start down the wrong path while still juveniles — are named as the perpetrators. Their crimes can be viewed as status symbols by their peers.
Let’s take for example 22-year-old convicted felon Kyron Keith Fazande, whom WWL Radio broadcaster Newell Normand labeled “a pure killer” during his on-air interview Wednesday (May 31) with Rafael Goyeneche of the Metropolitan Crime Commission. Fazande is accused in the murder of Hilbert Walker III, the 23-year-old server at Mandina’s Restaurant who was gunned down during the first weekend of Jazz Fest. Fazande and his girlfriend subsequently fled to Houston, where he allegedly killed a 15-year-old he suspected of burglarizing his car. Police said a .40-caliber Glock found among Fazande’s possessions linked him to the murders at Mandina’s and in Houston as well as three others going back as far as 2019, the year Fazande turned 18 and his criminal record becomes public.
It is believed that Walker’s murder was a planned hit. Fazande was out on parole from St. Bernard Parish after having served approximately one-third of his sentence for an arrest involving weapons and drugs. Had sentencing protocols not changed in the aftermath of criminal justice reform, Fazande would have still been behind bars when Walker and the Houston juvenile were shot.
The Fazande name is well known in the Lower 9th Ward and St. Bernard Parish. Kyron Keith Fazande could be a descendant of Jean-Pierre Fazende, who in 1854 founded the historic African-American community of Fazendeville, where the Battle of New Orleans took place. On this secluded swampy land, a self-sufficient village was built that included several dozen modest homes, a one-room school, two churches, grocery stores and a baseball diamond. Armed with rich cultural and social traditions, the village prospered through hurricanes, floods and the Jim Crow era. In 1963, the U.S. government demolished Fazendeville so that visitors to the Chalmette Battlefield “could better visualize the experience of soldiers during the War of 1812,” according to the National Park Service.
While many of Fazendeville’s residents relocated just up the road to the Lower 9, their sense of a cohesive community where people looked out for one another was gone. By the time Kyron Keith Fazande was born, life was very different in the neighborhood.
The Crime Commission’s Goyeneche said that the motivation of many young people like Fazande is not to commit armed robbery or carjacking but to hunt down their enemies and take them out wherever they can be found. If the enemy is hiding out but the wife or girlfriend can be found, she becomes the target. Goyeneche believes that the NOPD and other policing agencies must solve violent crimes as quickly as possible to stop the criminals from continuing to prey on the public.
He also is cognizant of the enhanced role of social media in crime. Today’s young people post pictures and video including weapons and publicly brag about specific crimes. “It’s a disturbing new trend that law enforcement is aware of,” said Goyeneche. Villio’s HB 321 previously passed the House and was reported with amendments on Wednesday by the Senate’s Committee on Judiciary B. It awaits final passage on the Senate floor. If signed by Gov. John Bel Edwards, police, prosecutors and the public will better understand the personal history of young repeat offenders.
WHEN YOU’RE HOT, YOU’RE HOT
The Baton Rouge law firm of Walters, Papillion, Thomas and Cullen (WPTC) is red hot. In one of the fastest Senate confirmation processes in U.S. history, Acadiana native and WPTC partner Darryl Papillion, received a lifetime appointment to the U.S. District Court in New Orleans. Also this week, WPTC partner Ed Walters was selected by the Louisiana Supreme Court’s Chief Justice John Weimer to serve as special trustee over the Louisiana storm-related suits filed by McClenny, Moseley & Associates (MMA), the Texas law firm barred from practice in Louisiana. According to Jeremy Alford’s The Tracker, Walters will create a list of attorneys in good standing with the Louisiana Bar Association who are able to represent MMA’s storm-related clients in Louisiana. Almost simultaneously, both men secured plum positions that will have long-term benefits.
FUNDRAISER TONIGHT FOR JUDICIAL CANDIDATE ELROY JAMES
Lawyers Anthony Irpino, James Williams, Mark Glago, Rico Alvendia and Bart Kelly are hosting a fundraiser tonight for Elroy James, a candidate for the open seat at First City Court Section B. The fundraiser will take place at the Four Seasons Hotel beginning at 5:30 p.m. President of the Zulu Social Aid & Pleasure Club, James is on leave for the state Attorney General’s Office. He is running to replace Judge Marissa Hutabarat, who was recently elected to Civil District Court. Tyronne Walker, the mastermind behind Jason Williams’ race for district attorney, is heading up James’ campaign team. Qualifying takes place in August.
CANDIDATE MADISON O’MALLEY SEEKS SUPPORT FROM YOUNG PROFESSIONALS
Madison O’Malley, a candidate for State Representative District 91 that includes Broadmoor and other neighborhoods in Uptown New Orleans, is meeting with young professionals tonight (June 1) at Tracey’s Original Irish Channel Bar from 6 until 8 p.m. Tickets begin at $25. O’Malley is running against incumbent state Rep. Mandie Landry, who is prohibited from raising funds during the legislative session.
SHAWN WILSON MAKES RETURN FUNDRAISING VISIT TO NEW ORLEANS
Supporters of gubernatorial candidate Shawn Wilson will host another fundraiser in New Orleans to help build his campaign war chest Tuesday, June 6, from 5:30 until 7:30 p.m. Event sponsors include James Carville, Jim Brandt, Carling Dinkler, Pres Kabacoff, Tamara Kreinin, Bill Hammack, Ray Manning, Cleveland Spears III and Iam Tucker. A native of Algiers, Wilson most recently served as Secretary of Transportation and Development for Gov. John Bel Edwards. He is the only Democrat who has entered the race. For more information about the fundraiser, call 713-392-3900.
Danae Columbus, who has had a 30-year career in politics and public relations, offers her opinions on Thursdays. Her career includes stints at City Hall, the Dock Board and the Orleans Parish School Board and former clients such as former District Attorney Leon Cannizzaro, former City Councilman Jared Brossett, City Councilwoman at-large Helena Moreno, Foster Campbell, former Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne, former Sheriff Charles Foti and former City Councilwomen Stacy Head and Cynthia Hedge-Morrell. She is a member of the Democratic Parish Executive Committee. Columbus can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.