David Klein pleads guilty to manslaughter in burning death of homeless man
June 5, 2019
For Immediate Release

Contact: Ken Daley, Public Information

District Attorney Leon Cannizzaro’s office on Wednesday (June 5) secured the guilty plea of a man who burned a fellow homeless man to death last year behind an abandoned former grocery store in Gentilly Woods.

David Klein averted a murder trial scheduled for June 17 and potential life sentence by pleading guilty to an amended charge of manslaughter as part of a plea agreement approved by the family of victim Henry Dunaway and Criminal District Judge Tracey Flemings-Davillier.

Under terms of the agreement, the judge imposed the maximum sentence of 40 years in state prison upon Klein, who turns 54 in August.

The burned remains of Dunaway, 28, were found after firefighters extinguished a blaze set behind a store in the 4600 block of Chef Menteur Highway on Feb. 23, 2018. Klein was arrested attempting to run from the scene after witnesses flagged down New Orleans police and identified him as the only other person seen near Dunaway before the fire and body were discovered.

Investigators recovered video surveillance footage that showed Klein running as flames began burning a cardboard box that had been placed over the sleeping Dunaway.

“This was a particularly cruel and vicious killing of a person who was sleeping and basically defenseless,” Cannizzaro said. “I am pleased that we were able to bring Mr. Dunaway’s killer to justice with an outcome tantamount to a life sentence, while sparing his family the trauma and uncertainty that would accompany a jury trial.”

Assistant District Attorney Jason Napoli prosecuted the case.