Ronald Claude pleads guilty, gets 20-year prison sentence for Little Woods killing
February 3, 2020
For Immediate Release

Contact: Ken Daley, Public Information

District Attorney Leon Cannizzaro’s office on Monday (Feb. 3) announced it has secured a guilty plea and 20-year state prison sentence for a gunman who fatally shot a Little Woods man during a disputed drug deal in 2015.

Ronald “Money” Claude averted his scheduled second-degree murder trial by pleading guilty Jan. 30 to an amended charge of manslaughter, in connection with the killing of 61-year-old Wesley Nelson (pictured at left). Nelson was found dead outside his home, in the intersection of Venice Boulevard and Wales Street, by a relative leaving for work at 6 a.m. on July 31, 2015. Claude also pleaded guilty as charged to being a felon in possession of a firearm at the time of the slaying.

The sentencing of Claude, 36, was left to the discretion of Criminal District Judge Paul Bonin. The judge imposed a 20-year prison term for each offense Monday, and ordered they be served concurrently to each other.

New Orleans police determined that Nelson had visited a corner store early on the morning of his death, then got into a car with four other people who drove him back to his house. Witnesses said a dispute erupted inside the car over a proposed marijuana purchase, and that Claude shot Nelson in the head before dumping his body in the street.

Relatives said Nelson was suffering from emphysema and late-stage prostate cancer and was too weak to have posed a threat to anyone in the car.

The car’s other occupants eventually were indicted in October 2018 as co-conspirators in the murder. But the second-degree murder charges against Hakeema Camp, Tatiyana Johnson and Sheldon Williams were amended in the past five days to single counts of accessory after the fact to second-degree murder.

Camp and Williams pleaded guilty to their revised charges last Friday, and on Monday received sentences of one year in prison (suspended) and one year of probation. Johnson pleaded guilty Monday pursuant to Article 893 (expungeable felony). She was placed on probation for one year with Bonin deferring imposition of her sentence until a later date.

Assistant District Attorney Michael Trummel prosecuted the case.