The News looks back at crime in 2016

Published 12:42 pm Monday, January 2, 2017

The year 2016 saw a number of murders, fatal wrecks and other deaths that made local headlines.

The first local homicide of the year happened Feb. 19, 2016, with the fatal shooting of former Port Arthur Police officer Chris Jeffries, 47.

  • Jeffries was found dead from a gunshot wound in a back room of his home in the 2200 block of Glenwood. Police had received a tip about the incident and asked Jeffries’ fiancée, Ethel Marie Eulian, for permission to check on his welfare. She refused, police said. Law enforcement later forcibly entered the home and found Jeffries dead.

Eulian was later arrested for murder. She was indicted in March 2016 by a Jefferson County grand jury. In October 2016 she pleaded guilty before Judge John Stevens and was sentenced to 40 years for the first-degree felony charge.

  • Just a few days later, on Feb. 21, 2016, Antonio Moretti, 16, of Port Neches, was hit and killed while riding a mini-motorcycle around 3:30 a.m. in the 7600 block of the U.S. 69 feeder road.

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Moretti and friend Tause Khro, then 15, were riding the bike when, police say, it was hit by Alexandra Guillen, 20. The teens were thrown off the bike near the area of Saltgrass Steakhouse, but the bike was lodged under Guillen’s vehicle.

Police said she continued along the access road, where witnesses, who saw sparks from the vehicle, caught up to her to tell her there was a problem with her vehicle. They reportedly dislodged the bike and the driver continued on to a nearby apartment complex.

Moretti was killed in the incident and Khro was injured and hospitalized.

Guillen was not arrested until April for two counts of accident involving injury/death.

  • Port Arthur resident Patrick Louis Guidry, 35, was murdered while at Port Arthur Park Apartments, 1348 Jefferson Drive, on May 10, 2016.

Paris Bennette Jr. of Port Arthur was charged with the crime.

According to a probable cause affidavit for Bennette’s arrest, the two men were sitting in a stairwell at the apartment complex with Bennette behind Guidry.

“For no apparent reason” Bennette stood up and slashed the victim’s neck, killing him. The suspect left the scene, but about two hours later went to the police station and spoke with investigators. He was later arrested, charged with murder and bond was set at $1 million.

Bennette was indicted for the crime about a week later.

  • Shalala Fletcher, 36, of Beaumont, was siting in a parked car outside Express Mart, 2920 Jimmy Johnson Blvd. around 5:30 a.m. July 2 when two men she had ridden with reportedly came running out of the store with stolen cases of beer.

Michael Turner, an off-duty security guard who worked in Beaumont, saw the incident unfold and tried to move his vehicle to block the car from leaving. He then drew his 9mm handgun and fired multiple shots, 11 of which struck the fleeing vehicle, in an attempt to shoot out the tires, according to information from the Jefferson County District Attorney’s office.

But one of those bullets struck Fletcher in the back, killing her.

The vehicle continued on for a few blocks to near Community Bank, where the two men abandoned the vehicle and fled the scene leaving Fletcher in the car.

Turner was not initially arrested for the crime nor was his name released to the public. About four days after the incident Turner made a statement to police but was not arrested, which caused anger among some of the African American community. Concerned Pastors of Jefferson County and local branches of the NAACP joined together outside the Jefferson County Courthouse in late August asking for answers and justice for Shalala Fletcher.

Michael Turner was indicted for criminally negligent homicide on Aug. 31.

  • Former boxer Manuel Delacruz, 26, suffering from a mental condition, died while in custody at The Medical Center of Southeast Texas on Aug. 1.

Police said the man failed to comply with officers and medical personnel and a struggle ensued. During the struggle, Delacruz went into medical distress, and efforts to save him were not successful.

The officers involved, Sgt. Reid Rowe and officers Shannon Meaux and Lane Cherry were placed on administrative leave, which is standard procedure.

The case was sent to a grand jury in October 2016 who opted not to indict the three Port Arthur police officers.

An autopsy showed both cause and manner of death as undetermined.

The family sought legal representation with The Ferguson Law Firm about their son’s death.

  • Jeffrey Richardson, 31, was found shot to death in his residence at Timber Creek Apartments, 3605 Jimmy Johnson Blvd on Dec. 17.

Police had responded to a 911 call about an unresponsive person and found Richardson dead from a single gunshot wound to the chest.

Otis John Babino Jr., 36, was charged in the death.

According to the probable-cause affidavit, Babino was at the murder scene and later made a statement to a relative about the shooting. Police did not release specifics of the crime.

The affidavit states a possible motive; a retaliation for an alleged crime against Babino.

Bond was set at $500,000.

  • An off-duty Port Arthur Police officer was attacked by a man with a survival-type knife at his residence at Willow Lake Apartments, 2555 95th St. on Dec. 22, 2016.

Jerry Daws was at his apartment when a man, later identified as Joal Morgan Riley, used the large knife to assault the officer, according to a probable cause affidavit.

The officer fended off the attack and was able to escape to safety and was sent to a hospital for treatment of cuts to his arms.

Investigation showed that Daws’ estranged wife, Kelly Sue Daws, was stressed over the impending divorce and had spoken with Riley, her boyfriend, on multiple occasions about getting rid of Daws.

Kelly Daws and Joal Riley were arrested a few days later in connection with the knife attack.

  • Port Arthur Police were continuing their investigation into the shooting death of Rasheed Troy Edwards, 29, who was shot to death outside Baymont Inn & Suites on Dec. 29.

Police got the call of possible shots fired about 9 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 29, at the hotel, 3801 Texas 73. They found the victim dead with a gunshot wound.

Police are not commenting on a possible motive or a description of the suspect but are searching for a white Dodge Challenger.

Anyone with information on this incident is asked to call Port Arthur Police Department’s Criminal Investigation Division.

Reporter: Mary Meaux, 409-721-2429

Twitter: @MaryMeauxPANews