Facing questioning from homicide investigators, a teenager confessed that he stole a pastor’s wife’s car and then fatally injured her by backing the vehicle over her in Gentilly last week, according to the New Orleans Police Department.
Police said Jontrell Robinson, 17, also claimed that an 18-year-old named Edwin Cottrell, an underage boy and an unidentified girl used a stolen minivan to get him to the scene of the killing and then went with him to discard the car of the slaying victim, Jeannot Plessy.
Police booked Robinson on counts of second-degree murder and carjacking. Cottrell and the juvenile boy were booked on counts of being principals to second-degree murder and carjacking.
Robinson — who at 17 is old enough to be booked as an adult — and Cottrell were booked into the city’s jail and the boy into the juvenile detention center. It did not appear that the girl mentioned by Robinson had been arrested as of Sunday.
At a bail hearing Sunday morning, Magistrate Commissioner Robert Blackburn set the bail for Robinson and Cottrell at $600,000 each, and they remained behind bars later Sunday.
The younger boy’s name wasn’t released because of his age.
According to officials and her relatives, Plessy, 49, had arrived at her adult daughter’s home in the 2400 block of Prentiss Avenue about 7:45 p.m. Tuesday to pick up two of her preteen children when a young man yanked her out of her car and climbed into the driver’s seat.
Plessy’s son-in-law heard screaming, came outside and tried to pull the attacker out of the car, court documents said. However, the carjacker accelerated in reverse, hitting Plessy and mortally wounding her, police said.
Investigators soon gathered surveillance camera video from multiple places that showed Plessy’s car being followed by a white Toyota Sienna van following the killing.
Police said the Sienna had been reported stolen minutes before Plessy was attacked, and investigators recovered the van abandoned at Metropolitan and Chickasaw streets in the Desire neighborhood.
Investigators obtained a warrant to search the van and collected a DNA sample that they matched to Cottrell with the help of an FBI-managed database. It was unclear why Cottrell’s DNA was in the database.
Police said they tracked Cottrell to Annette and North Prieur streets in the 7th Ward on Saturday. He was in the company of Robinson and an underage boy.
All three were interrogated, and Robinson waived his right to remain silent, police said. Ultimately, they said, Robinson recounted how he, Cottrell, the boy and a girl had been riding in the stolen Sienna when Robinson ambushed Plessy.
After stealing Plessy’s car and running her over, Robinson said, he and the others took the vehicle to New Orleans East and left it in front of an abandoned home.
Detective Rayell Johnson obtained arrest warrants by Saturday evening and the three were jailed.
At their hearings in front of Blackburn, Robinson described himself as being in school. Cottrell said he worked “security” at a bar in the 500 block of Bourbon Street.
Both were wearing orange prisoner’s jumpsuits and shackles. They glanced at each other and shook their heads after hearing the bail amounts that Blackburn set, with one exhaling deeply at the conclusion of the hearing.
Plessy, who had just returned from a preaching tour in American Samoa, had been on a dinner date at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel with her husband, David Plessy, on the evening she was killed. David Plessy is a pastor at Crossover Christian Fellowship in New Orleans.
Following his wife’s death, David Plessy told WWL-TV that Jeannot’s killing was “an act of selfishness (and) desperation … that cost us a great deal.”
“One inclination would be to scream out for justice and scream out of anger, and perhaps that’s a stage of my grief that’s in front of me,” Plessy said. “But I know my wife has never failed to forgive anyone who has hurt her.”
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