District Attorney Warren Montgomery reports that on Wednesday, November 8, 2023, a 12-person jury in St. Tammany Parish unanimously found Jovan Earl Newman, age 32 and of Slidell, guilty as charged of Armed Robbery. District Judge Richard Swartz presided over the trial. At sentencing on November 21, 2023, Newman will be facing 10 to 99 years in prison.
On October 29, 2019, the defendant – along with a co-defendant - drove to a Circle K in Slidell. They parked their car a few doors down in the driveway of a residence that appeared to be unoccupied.
While wearing orange ski masks and white gloves, the two men walked a few doors down and entered the Circle K. The co-defendant was holding a knife in plain view. The perpetrators immediately rushed behind the counter and the co-defendant placed a hand around the back of the female attendant’s neck as she opened the cash drawer. The co-defendant pointed to Newman, indicating for him to grab boxes of cigarettes.
Meanwhile, a man who lived in the residence at which they parked, was home and noticed their vehicle as he was preparing to leave for work. He took a photo of the car and the license plate. He also observed two males wearing orange ski masks re-enter the vehicle and flee the area.
Because of the license plate photo, detectives were able to locate the home where the co-defendant lived. After obtaining a search warrant for the residence, police found both
perpetrators along with the clothing matching what was seen on surveillance video. Additionally, police located orange ski masks and gloves inside a drainage culvert near the perpetrators’ parked vehicle.
In his police interview, Newman did not deny his involvement in the robbery. He admitted that he took the cigarettes from behind the counter during the crime, but insisted that he did not commit an “armed robbery” since he was not in possession of the knife while the robbery was taking place.
At trial, prosecutors presented surveillance video from the Circle K and called the store clerk as a witness. They also presented surveillance video from the home of the eye-witness, who also testified.
Defense counsel for Newman did not deny his involvement in a crime but asked the jury to find him guilty of a lesser charge as he was not a “principal” to the crime of armed robbery. Assistant District Attorney Amanda Gritten explained to the jury that they should find Newman to be a “principal” to the crime, based on Revised Statute 14:24 which says “all persons concerned in the commission of a crime, whether present or absent, and whether they directly commit the act constituting the offense, aid and abet in the commission…are principals” and are therefore guilty of the underlying offense, in this case, armed robbery.
Defense counsel further argued that when the defendant walked in the store he did not know the other male had a knife. Assistant District Attorney Zachary Popovich told the jury, “we have no way of knowing what his thoughts and plans were ahead of time, but we can see his actions in the video. This man saw the knife, knew the victim’s life was in danger but still intentionally proceeded with the armed robbery.”
Assistant District Attorneys Zachary Popovich and Amanda Ahner Gritten prosecuted the case. St. Tammany Parish Sheriff’s Office Sgt. Matthew Rowley was in charge of the investigation.