Contact: Ken Daley, Public Information
District Attorney Leon Cannizzaro’s office on Thursday (Oct. 22) secured a murder indictment against a New Orleans East man accused of fatally shooting his father at their family home in July.
Darnell “D.J.” Hamilton was charged with the second-degree murder of 60-year-old Rhett Hamilton (pictured at left) in the seven-count indictment handed up by an Orleans Parish grand jury. The elder Hamilton was shot to death in his bed around 9:30 p.m. on July 21, 2020.
Darnell Hamilton, 27, faces a mandatory lifetime prison sentence if convicted on the murder charge. The defendant additionally was charged with aggravated assault with a firearm for allegedly putting the gun to his mother’s head after the shooting, and with obstruction of justice in a homicide investigation, domestic abuse battery, simple criminal damage to property and two counts of violating a protective order.
Hamilton’s wife and daughter were home at the time of the shooting. Both reported Darnell Hamilton in their house with a gun and no other intruders present.
The victim’s widow told New Orleans police that her husband retired to go to sleep, and that their son wordlessly followed into the same bedroom a few minutes later without answering her questions about why. She said she then heard several gunshots and that her son chased her into their driveway and put the gun to her head before she was able to escape through a gate.
Darnell Hamilton took his mother’s keys and fled the scene in her vehicle. But he was spotted about four hours later and apprehended by New Orleans police near the intersection of Chef Menteur Highway and Downman Road at 2:11 a.m. He has remained in custody at the Orleans Justice Center jail since his arrest, in lieu of a bond amount set at $430,000.
According to obituary information provided by the family, Rhett Hamilton was a graduate of McDonough #35 Senior High School and Southern University of New Orleans. He had a career spanning nearly four decades with the United Parcel Service.
Assistant District Attorney Abigail MacDonald presented the case to the grand jury.
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