Prosecutors suggested the attack may have been racially motivated, claiming Ward, who is white, yelled racial slurs at Arnold Jackson, a Black man, as he beat him so severely in 2018 that he later died from his injuries.
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A 29-year-old Baton Rouge real estate agent, Garrett Ward, was sentenced to 30 years of jail on Monday for beating 60-year-old Arnold Jackson to death in 2018 on St. Charles Avenue, Nola.com reported.
“The lack of humanity and respect shown by the defendant as he viciously attacked the victim, Mr. Jackson — a 60-year-old Black man — was reprehensible,” District Attorney Jason Williams said, who prosecuted the case with assistant district attorneys, Andre Gaudin Jr. and Christian Hebert-Pryor. “When I met with Mr. Jackson’s family last year, I promised his loved ones that I would see this case to the end with them. The conviction last month and today’s 30-year sentence represent the fulfillment of that promise.”
At the time of the attack, Ward worked as a commercial real estate broker for NAI Latter & Blum.
Both defendant and plaintiff agreed, during a six-day trial that took place at the beginning of May 2022, Ward was inebriated when he struggled with Jackson, kicking and punching the older man enough to break his jaw and cause brain bleeding.
Two weeks after the incident, which took place on Jan. 6, 2018, Jackson died from blunt force injuries while in the hospital, according to the New Orleans coroner.
Despite agreeing about Ward’s state during the encounter, prosecutors and defense attorneys created contrasting recollections of what happened that night. There were no witnesses or video surveillance footage of the incident.
Prosecutors said Ward attacked Jackson while spewing out racial slurs (Ward is white and Jackson is Black). The defense said Ward was acting in self-defense when he awoke, drunk, in some bushes outside of the Pontchartrain Hotel to find Jackson threatening him with a knife and reaching for his cellphone in his pocket.
The jury deliberated over the case for six hours, and ultimately found Ward guilty of manslaughter, a sentence that can yield up to 40 years of imprisonment. Criminal District Court Judge Robin D. Pittman presided over the case and issued the sentence.
Ward’s attorneys argued the sentence was “excessive” under the circumstances.
“We were hoping to receive a sentence that was toward the lower end of the zero to 40-year guideline,” said Andrew Bevinetto, one of Ward’s attorneys, who represented him along with John Fuller and Robert Gill. “Not only are we upset with the sentence, but we believe it is excessive, given the facts around this case in particular.”
The defense said they plan to file a motion to reconsider the sentence sometime this week.