Minden Press-Herald

Sep 30th

Cullen man is guilty

Jean_HawthorneSecond thoughts may have caused a Cullen man to wait until the eleventh hour to enter a plea for three felonies committed almost a year ago.

Jean Hawthorne, 57, pled guilty to aggravated battery, convicted felon in possession of a firearm and illegal use of a weapon while his jury was deliberating his fate late Wednesday.

According to Webster Parish assistant District Attorney Sherb Sentell, Hawthorne had already rejected one plea offer on two felony charges before his trial began on Monday, May 14.

"We offered aggravated battery and convicted felon with a firearm," Sentell said. "After we presented our entire case, we refused to allow Hawthorne the same deal. We felt confident the jury would convict him."

During the guilty plea, Hawthorne reportedly admitted to being at a cookout in Cullen on May 20, 2011 and shooting the victim, Rodney Carter.

"He also admitted to being a convicted felon, having previously been convicted of distribution of crack cocaine, and to intentionally firing a handgun in such a manner that it was foreseeable that human life could be in danger," Sentell said.

Prior to the plea, Hawthorne's attorney, David Belfield of New Orleans, had argued the shooting was self-defense and happened inside Hawthorne's home.

"We presented evidence showing Hawthorne brought the gun to the cookout at his wife's house," Sentell said. "We called witnesses who said that after an altercation, the victim ran into the house, locked the doors and was trying to call 9-1-1 when Hawthorne got the keys to the house and came in after him with a handgun and shot him in the arm."

Cullen Police Department investigated the case.

District Attorney Schuyler Marvin said he was pleased with the outcome.

"We appreciate the jurors for serving, and we got justice for the victim," Marvin said. "This case is an example of why convicted felons are prohibited from possessing firearms."

Presiding Judge John Robinson will sentence Hawthorne on June 25, following a pre-sentence investigation.

Hawthorne faces up to 10 years on the aggravated battery charge, 10 to 15 years at hard labor on the firearm possession charge and up to two years at hard labor on illegal use of a weapon. All sentences will run concurrently.






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