Contact: Ken Daley, Public Information
District Attorney Leon Cannizzaro’s office on Wednesday (Feb. 5) secured the guilty plea of a New Orleans man who admitted mid-trial that he participated in two 2018 armed robberies with two accomplices.
After hearing opening arguments and the first few witnesses at his trial in the courtroom of Criminal District Judge Robin Pittman, Michael Christopher asked to abandon his plea of not guilty and accept terms of a previously offered plea agreement. Christopher admitted his role in the gunpoint holdups of a Shell gas station in the 3400 block of Esplanade Avenue near Bayou St. John on Sept. 30, 2018, and of the Magnolia Meat Market in Treme on Oct. 10, 2018.
Christopher, 25, pleaded guilty to two counts of armed robbery with a firearm, two counts of being a felon in possession of a firearm, and two counts of using a firearm during a crime of violence. In exchange for his guilty pleas, Christopher received a prison term of 15 years without the benefit of parole, probation or suspension of sentence.
New Orleans police arrested Payne shortly after the meat market in the 900 block of North Broad Street was robbed. A cellphone that co-defendant Joseph Payne left behind at that scene was found after a warranted search to contain text messages implicating Payne and Christopher in both robberies, leading to Christopher’s arrest.
During questioning, NOPD detectives said they learned from Christopher that he preferred smoking Camel unfiltered cigarettes — the same type that were stolen as part of the Shell
station robbery. Jacolby Lamar ultimately was identified as the pair’s accomplice and also charged with both crimes.
A pretrial conference for Payne and Lamar is set for Feb. 11 in Judge Pittman’s courtroom.
Assistant District Attorneys Eleanor Brown and Andre Gaudin Jr. prosecuted the case.
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