Girl, 14, Is 4th Victim to Die in New Orleans Hammer Attack

Girl, 14, Is 4th Victim to Die in New Orleans Hammer Attack
Terrance Leonard. Authorities say Leonard used a hammer to fatally bludgeon his girlfriend and two sleeping children in their suburban New Orleans apartment on March 6, 2019 .(Jefferson Parish Sheriff's Office via AP)

NEW ORLEANS—Relatives say a 14-year-old girl has died from her injuries in a hammer attack that also killed her mother, younger brother, and cousin last week in Louisiana.

Jefferson Parish Coroner Gerry Cvitanovich said Monday, March 11, that a fourth victim of the March 6 attack had died. News outlets are reporting that Emmett Rhodes said his granddaughter, Nashawna Riley, was removed from life support after being declared brain dead.

Rhodes said her sister, 12-year-old Adrianna Riley, is now the sole survivor, in critical condition but improving.

The attack also killed 32-year-old Kristina Riley, 10-year-old Ayden Riley, and 9-year-old De’ryona Encalade.

Authorities said Kristina Riley’s boyfriend, 33-year-old Terrance Leonard, attacked her after bludgeoning the children while they slept.

Jefferson Parish Sheriff Joseph Lopinto said investigators believe the children were attacked in bed as they slept, most likely between midnight and 2 a.m., while Kristina Riley was out with her mother.

“It didn’t appear that there was any struggle from any of the locations where the children were,” he said.

Leonard, who lived at the apartment, told investigators he waited for Kristina Riley to come home and then killed her at around 2 a.m., Lopinto said.

A neighbor heard an argument in the apartment about that time but did not summon police, Lopinto said. It wasn’t until after 7 a.m. Wednesday that someone called authorities to the address, saying people there needed medical attention.

“We obviously found a very gruesome scene,” Lopinto said at a news conference.

Investigators found the hammer Leonard is believed to have used in a garbage can after he told them where it was hidden, Lopinto said.

Leonard was being held without bond on the murder charges. Other charges Leonard faces include attempted first-degree murder and obstruction of justice for hiding the hammer and attempting to clean up the scene, authorities said. Information on his attorney was not available.

Riley’s father told New Orleans news outlets that Riley was trying to break up with Leonard. Lopinto said he didn’t believe that was a motive.

“I really don’t believe that there was a motive in this,” he added. He said Leonard told investigators he was under the influence of crack cocaine at the time of the attacks. But, Lopinto also cast doubt on that as a factor. “There’s a lot of people under the influence of narcotics and this is not a normal situation.”

Lopinto said there was no record of domestic violence complaints involving the couple.

A first-degree murder conviction carries a possible death sentence.

“I don’t normally get involved with the penalty, by any means. That’s going to be a decision of the jury and the judge,” Lopinto said, when asked if he would support pursuit of the death penalty. “Would I support it? The answer is yes.”

It’s unclear whether Leonard has a lawyer.

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