LeBlanc, one of several men arrested in the case, landed the harshest sentence because he alone caused the defenseless animal "a painful death," state Judge Martin Coady explained.
|David J. LeBlanc Jr.|
On Dec. 19, 2009, LeBlanc's night of drinking at a Saints party at an apartment complex on Louisiana 1078 near Folsom was spoiled by the team's loss to the Dallas Cowboys.
He; Dwayne J. Jenkins, 36; and Carnie B. Smith, 29, vented their frustration by stealing a 3-day-old calf from nearby Red Bluff Farm, where school children often visit on field trips to learn about farming.
They dragged the animal back to the apartment complex's parking lot. There, as Jenkins and Smith watched, LeBlanc pummeled the calf with a shovel until it died.
The farm called the St. Tammany Parish Sheriff's Office out the next morning to investigate the calf's disappearance. Deputies found evidence that the calf had been dragged under the farm's fence, and footprints led them to the apartment complex.
Jenkins, Smith, LeBlanc and a fourth man, Christopher R. Murphy, 27, of Franklinton, were all eventually arrested. St. Tammany Parish Assistant District Attorney Harold Bartholomew secured guilty pleas from all of them.
Jenkins and Smith in October each received two years of probation and were ordered to pay back their share of the price of the calf. Murphy received two years' probation, too -- though he did not participate in killing or stealing the animal, he did remove the calf's carcass, drive it into the wilderness and dump it, authorities said.
As the time neared Monday for LeBlanc to learn his fate, he told Judge Coady that he deserved the same sentence if not a lighter one than his fellow defendants got.
"I was the only one who came forth and told the truth" during interviews with investigators, LeBlanc said. "The others lied the whole time."
LeBlanc then begged the judge to have sympathy for his relatives and his unborn child.
"I have a kid on the way," he said. "I could not do (time in prison). My family could not."
Coady replied that, though the pre-sentencing investigation he ordered confirmed that LeBlanc cooperated with deputies, it was not enough to save him out from being imprisoned.
|Carnie B. Smith|
Aside from the five-year sentence, Coady ordered LeBlanc to pay restitution to the calf's owner; to undergo psychiatric evaluation; and to keep away from all animals. The judge also recommended that LeBlanc apply for a boot camp program through which he could shave off part of his sentence, but acceptance into the program is not automatic, said Rick Wood, a District Attorney's spokesman.
LeBlanc, who wore a black hooded sweatshirt and denim jeans, was handcuffed by a deputy at the conclusion of the hearing. He slumped into a nearby bench, slowly shook his head and buried his face into his hands.
Two women and one man who accompanied him stood up to leave the room with dazed expressions on their faces.
"Oh my God," one woman said, her voice quivering. "Wow," said the other.
(The Times-Picayune - Nov 29, 2010)