Contact: Ken Daley, Public Information
District Attorney Leon Cannizzaro’s office on Thursday (Sept. 3) secured a murder indictment against a New Orleans woman accused of killing a French Quarter tourist by deliberately striking her with her car in March.
Asrielle Wise was charged with the second-degree murder of Amber Mello and with obstructing justice in a homicide investigation in the two-count indictment handed up by an Orleans Parish grand jury.
Wise, 26, faces a mandatory lifetime prison sentence if found guilty of the murder charge, and up to 40 years if convicted on the obstruction count.
Mello, 55 and pictured at left, was a Massachusetts physician assistant who was visiting New Orleans with her husband and friends. According to New Orleans police, Mello was nearly struck by a gray 2010 Hyundai Sonata driven by Wise in the 700 block of St. Louis Street just after midnight on March 16, 2020.
The near miss ignited an argument between Mello’s husband and friends and Wise, the driver who got out of her car and threw an object at the group. According to witnesses and surveillance video images, Mello’s husband punched Wise and the altercation was broken up by Amber Mello, who directed her group back to the sidewalk.
However, Wise got back into her car, put the vehicle in reverse and accelerated strongly backward, crushing Amber Mello between her car and a car behind Wise’s. Surveillance video shows Wise’s car accelerated backward so fast, its rear bumper, wheels and undercarriage went on top of the other car’s hood, with the tourist underneath.
Wise immediately sped away, and Amber Mello died at the scene despite the efforts of New Orleans EMS.
After police circulated images of the driver through the media, Wise surrendered for arrest with her attorney on March 25. She has remained free from custody since posting a $205,000 bond set by Orleans Parish Magistrate Commissioner Jonathan Friedman.
Investigators later confirmed that a DNA sample from the thrown object matched a sample from Wise already stored in the federal CODIS database (Combined DNA Index System). Wise’s previous convictions include domestic abuse battery and criminal trespass in 2015.
Assistant District Attorney Sarah Dawkins presented the case to the grand jury.
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