Contact: Ken Daley, Public Information
District Attorney Leon Cannizzaro’s office on Thursday (Jan. 9) secured an indictment charging a previously convicted New Orleans teen with last month’s armed robbery of a 72-year-old man who was delivering newspapers in the Upper 9th Ward.
Dwayne Fortenberry was charged with a single count of armed robbery in the indictment handed up by an Orleans Parish grand jury. Fortenberry, 16, faces a prison term of 10 to 99 years if convicted of the charge.
Criminal District Judge Karen Herman set Fortenberry’s bond at $50,000 after the indictment was read.
The victim told New Orleans police he had stepped out of his 2015 Toyota Tundra pickup truck to toss a newspaper over a subscriber’s fence in the 2100 block of Gallier Street around 8:45 a.m. on Dec. 1, 2019. He turned back to see a black sedan with heavily tinted windows stopped alongside his vehicle, and an unknown teenager in the driver’s seat of his truck.
The victim attempted to enter the passenger side of his truck, but the teen behind the wheel pointed a handgun at him and ordered him to step back. As the teen started to drive the truck away, the older man jumped onto his truck’s tailgate but soon was thrown off, sustaining minor injuries.
Police spotted the stolen truck in the 9th Ward the next day, as it ran a stop sign and nearly collided with another vehicle. An NOPD officer immediately recognized Fortenberry as the driver.
The suspect fled the scene in the truck, but crashed the vehicle nearby. After police established a perimeter around a 9th Ward neighborhood, a discarded gun was found in the 1600 block of France Street and Fortenberry was found in the area hiding under a truck. The armed robbery victim later identified Fortenberry in a photo lineup as the teen who stole his truck at gunpoint.
Just eight months earlier, Fortenberry and a 17-year-old co-defendant pleaded guilty on April 9, 2019, to kidnapping a New Orleans woman at gunpoint and forcing her to drive them to the 9th Ward after they crashed a car near the University of New Orleans in December 2018. The victim in that case pleaded for leniency for Fortenberry, telling
prosecutors and Judge Laurie A. White that, unlike his co-defendant, Fortenberry “appeared to be very remorseful” during the abduction.
In accordance with that victim’s wishes, Fortenberry was allowed to plead guilty to an amended charge of simple kidnapping, and White imposed a five-year suspended sentence and five years’ probation. A hearing to determine whether that probation will be revoked by the judge is set for Jan. 14.
“We all hope to see arrested young people reform and put an end to their criminal behavior, but their second chances cannot be endless,” Cannizzaro said. “Those who waste their second chances only as opportunities to commit more crimes and create more victims betray our community’s compassion and trust.
“As we have seen in this instance, and in the young habitual offenders arrested this week in Lakeview, some violent teen offenders exhibit no desire for reform. We have a responsibility as police, prosecutors, judges and city leaders to heed our crime-weary citizens’ pleas and ensure these offenders face meaningful consequences for their criminal acts.”
Assistant District Attorney Alexandra Serpas presented the case to the grand jury.
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