3 indicted in 2 murders
A St. Mary Parish grand jury returned three indictments Thursday afternoon in two murder cases and revealed the identity of a Bayou Vista juvenile arrested in the Oct. 29 murder of Willie Francis, 23, of Bayou Vista.
The indictments charge Kaysha Francis of Bayou Vista, who turns 16 today, and her boyfriend Kirkland Craft, 22, of Morgan City, with first-degree murder in the stabbing death of Willie Francis.
Sixteenth Judicial District Assistant District Attorney Anthony Saleme said he is not aware of any relationship between the juvenile and the victim.
Both defendants were originally charged with second-degree murder when they were arrested.
The grand jury also returned an indictment against Jazmine Jamal Jackson, 23, of Franklin, on charges of second degree-murder and possession of a weapon by a felon for allegedly putting two bullets into the head of Jarnell McDaniel, 24, of Franklin, on Sept. 30.
The Francis and Craft indictments come after Willie Francis’ body was found about 10:30 a.m. Oct. 30 by Berwick police in a ditch alongside La. 182 near Tournament Boulevard. The night before, the victim’s car was found by a St. Mary Parish Sheriff’s deputy on the side of U.S. 90 near Cameron in Bayou Vista with its engine running and the door open.
Sheriff’s deputies and Berwick police began a joint investigation. Deputies arrested Kaysha Francis a week after the killing, on Nov. 5.
With her mother Priscilla Francis present, Kaysha Francis told sheriff’s detectives that she and the victim drove to an unknown location where he made unwanted advances toward her and she stabbed him in self-defense, according to the affidavit of probable cause.
She told police two knives and a “flip flop type footwear” found at the scene belonged to her, the affidavit said. She had “recently been hospitalized for a stab wound at Women and Children’s Hospital in Lafayette,” the affidavit said.
The morning after her arrest, Craft was arrested by Morgan City police on warrants for theft and failure to appear. He was picked up from the Lafayette Police Department and was transferred to the sheriff’s office on the second-degree murder charge.
Craft told investigators that he stabbed the victim about 10 times, on the front and back sides “in defense of his juvenile girlfriend,” an affidavit stated.
That afternoon, sheriff’s deputies made two other arrests on warrants for accessory to second-degree murder. One was the juvenile’s mother, Priscilla Francis, 41, and the other was Autumn Alfred, 24, both of the same address in the 300 block of Venus Street in Bayou Vista.
Kaysha Francis’ identity was not revealed previously because of her age. The Louisiana Children’s Code states a juvenile court retains jurisdiction until an indictment by a grand jury for first- or second-degree murder committed when a juvenile is 15 or older.
The afternoon before his murder, the victim and his father, Willie Webb Sr., had reportedly been assaulted with a firearm, Morgan City Police Chief Travis Crouch said at that time.
Police did not draw a connection between the alleged assault and the victim’s subsequent murder, Sheriff Mark Hebert said after Francis was found dead.
At the time of his murder, Francis was facing a Nov. 19 trial date on two felony counts of theft. He was accused of having stolen $2,800 worth of iron from a Bayou Vista business on Dec. 29, 2011, and returning to the same business on Jan. 6, 2012, and stealing another $1,000 worth of iron.
An affidavit of probable cause in the Jackson case said that a few hours after the murder, Tamika Jackson told police her son was the gunman.
Jazmine Jackson came with the victim to her house around 1:30 a.m. Sept. 30 and asked her to join them on a ride to a girlfriend’s house, Tamika Jackson’s affidavit stated. After making a stop at the West End Shell Station for a purchase, Jazmine Jackson drove his girlfriend’s car to Sorrell Bridge Road where he stopped and told McDaniel to begin driving, the affidavit stated
The victim got out of the car and as he approached the driver’s side, Jazmine Jackson exited the vehicle and shot the victim; at some point telling his mother, “I can’t stand a McDaniel,” the affidavit stated.
Jazmine Jackson removed the victim’s pants, drove about three miles and tossed them out the window, then went to a car wash and washed the vehicle in the automatic wash, according to his mother’s statement.
Jazmine Jackson was originally arrested on a warrant for first-degree murder. He was also charged as a felon in possession of a .38-caliber automatic handgun because of his prior conviction for possession of a Schedule I controlled dangerous substance (ecstasy), according to the indictment.
The grand jury reconvened this morning to consider other cases.