Police search for driver in Central City hit-and-run death, and other New Orleans-area police news

Police search for driver in hit-and-run death

New Orleans police are searching for the driver who struck and killed a man early Wednesday morning in the Central City neighborhood.

Tab Virgil, 52, was crossing Martin Luther King Boulevard near South Robertson Street about 4:25 a.m. when a vehicle hit him.

Virgil died on the scene from internal injuries and multiple fractures, said John Gagliano, the Orleans Parish coroner’s chief investigator.

The driver of the unknown vehicle continued north on Martin Luther King after hitting Virgil, police said.

Detectives are asking people who live near the accident site and who have surveillance systems to review their footage to see if the hit-and-run was recorded.

Anyone with information about this incident is asked to contact fatality investigator Melvin Hunter at (504) 658-6208 or Crimestoppers at (504) 822-1111.

Suspect arrested in River Ridge shooting

Authorities arrested a suspect in a shooting Tuesday night in River Ridge that stemmed from a dispute about a marijuana sale, the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office said.

Demond Stewart, 21, was arrested on charges of attempted second-degree murder on Wednesday, said Col. John Fortunato, a Sheriff’s Office spokesman.

Deputies arrived in the 2000 block of Oak Creek Drive about 7:30 p.m. Tuesday to find 18-year-old Dillon Morgan suffering from multiple gunshot wounds.

He was taken to Interim LSU Public Hospital in New Orleans, where he remained in critical condition on Wednesday.

Fortunato said that on the way to the hospital, Morgan identified Stewart as the man who shot him.

Deputies were unable to find Stewart at his apartment, but they said they found a gun that, according to ballistics experts, matched the weapon used during the shooting.

Fortunato said a relative of Stewart’s helped detectives find him at a house in the 2000 block of Clouet Street in New Orleans.

Stewart agreed to meet with detectives at the Sheriff’s Office, where he confessed to shooting Morgan over a marijuana transaction, Fortunato said.

Stewart has previous arrests for simple battery, theft and shoplifting.

Metairie man pleads to hate crime in Quarter

A 20-year-old Metairie man admitted Wednesday that he committed a hate crime when he punched someone in the face for holding hands with another man in the French Quarter earlier this year.

Jamie Hebert is thought to be among the first people charged in New Orleans under the state’s hate-crimes law, the District Attorney’s Office said in a statement Wednesday.

He pleaded guilty to second-degree battery and committing a hate crime and accepted a sentence of three years of probation.

The victim and his male companion were holding hands as they walked in the 700 block of North Rampart Street on Feb. 23. A group across the street shouted a homophobic slur in their direction, according to the district attorney.

The victim challenged them to cross the street and make the comment to his face.

The group walked across Rampart, and Hebert then punched the victim in the face, breaking his eye socket in four places and knocking him unconscious.

Second-degree battery is punishable by up to five years in prison. A hate-crime conviction, when the underlying offense is a felony, tacks on up to five additional years. State law requires that the two sentences run back-to-back, rather than simultaneously.

Criminal District Court Judge Julian Parker sentenced Hebert to two years for the battery plus another three for the hate crime. Parker then suspended the sentence in favor of three years of probation.

Assistant District Attorneys Michael Danon and Heather Holland told the court that the victim had agreed to the sentence, according to court minutes.

Cannizzaro said Wednesday that hate-crime prosecutions are rare, but his office felt the circumstances of the assault made it undeniably a hate crime.

“This defendant approached and attacked this victim based on nothing more than his sexual orientation,” Cannizzaro wrote. “As such, he constituted not only a threat to this particular victim but the entire homosexual community in this city.”

N.O. man is charged with making child porn

A New Orleans man was charged Tuesday with multiple counts of producing, distributing and receiving child pornography, U.S. Attorney Kenneth Polite’s office said.

Christopher M. Schwab, 24, was arrested in August after investigators determined he was responsible for sending images that showed the sexual exploitation of children, Polite said in a news release.

He has been in custody since his arrest.

Schwab was charged in a bill of information with four counts of producing child pornography involving four minor victims. He also was charged with one count of distributing and one count of receiving child pornography.

Production of child pornography carries a mandatory minimum sentence of 15 years and a maximum sentence of 30 years. Distribution and receipt of child pornography carries a minimum sentence of five years and a maximum sentence of 20 years.

Schwab must register as a sex offender if convicted.