Contact: Ken Daley, Public Information
District Attorney Leon Cannizzaro’s office on Wednesday (Oct. 30) announced it secured the conviction of a New Orleans drug dealer who murdered a young Metairie woman in 2014 beneath a Desire-area overpass.
An Orleans Parish jury deliberated nearly four hours Tuesday night before finding Peter Grandpre guilty as charged of the second-degree murder of 23-year-old Rebecca “Becca” DeMuth. Grandpre, 31, faces a mandatory lifetime prison term when Criminal District Judge Arthur Hunter imposes his sentence on Nov. 26.
The jury also found Grandpre guilty as charged of conspiracy to commit second-degree murder and conspiracy to distribute heroin.
A passerby spotted DeMuth’s body in a patch of mud and overgrown weeds beneath the France Road overpass on the morning of July 29, 2014. Grainy surveillance video indicated to New Orleans police investigators that the woman had been shot to death at approximately 9:26 p.m. the previous night.
Co-defendant Anthony Eugene III pleaded guilty last November to an amended charge of manslaughter in connection to DeMuth’s death, and guilty as charged to conspiracy to commit second-degree murder and conspiracy to distribute heroin.
Eugene received a 25-year sentence on the manslaughter conviction and concurrent 30-year sentences on the conspiracy counts. He testified in Grandpre’s trial, though only after being held in contempt of court and receiving an additional six months to his sentence on Monday. Eugene has appealed the court’s denial of his attempt to withdraw his guilty plea.
Multiple state and federal law enforcement agencies collaborated to bring DeMuth’s killers to justice. Lacking eyewitnesses and a murder weapon, investigators doggedly pieced together a solid circumstantial case. They relied on cutting-edge technology and
a trove of text messages exchanged between DeMuth and Eugene, Eugene and Grandpre, and cellphone tower data showing the location and movements of each. The victim was acquainted with Eugene, who coaxed her into meeting and driving to the remote location where she was killed.
Assisting in the investigation were the FBI’s Violent Crimes Task Force-Gentilly Initiative, the FBI New Orleans Gang Task Force, the NOPD’s Homicide Division and the Orleans Parish District Attorney’s office HIDTA unit (High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area program). The federal Gulf Coast HIDTA program funds task forces that target narcotics trafficking operations and the violence associated with drug distributors.
FBI special agent Crystal Bender, NOPD lead detective Gregory Johnson and the testimony of the FBI’s nationally recognized cellphone data expert, special agent William C. (Chuck) Williams, proved instrumental in solving and presenting the case.
Assistant District Attorneys Andre Gaudin Jr. and Kevin Guillory prosecuted the case.
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