TERRYTOWN, La. (WGNO) — For the first time, a woman visited the home where 5 of her family members were brutally beaten with a hammer, 4 of them killed.
The only reason is because of what happened in a Jefferson Parish courtroom on Friday morning.
Ida Rhodes honored her loved ones’ lives with a balloon release. She chose purple for her daughter, who loved the color and blue for her grandson.
“I decided today was the day that I would stand in front of this building and release balloons in my children’s names, and let the world know today I got my victory,” Rhodes explained.
Victory after the killer, Terrance Leonard, was sentenced to prison after a brutal 2019 attack with a hammer on his girlfriend’s family.
A Jefferson Parish judge sentenced Leonard to four life sentences on Thursday for the murder of his 32-year-old girlfriend Kristina Riley, her 14-year-old daughter, 10-year-old son, and 9-year-old niece.
The case dates back to March 7, 2019, when Jefferson Parish deputies responded to the family’s Terrytown apartment. When they arrived, police found multiple people who had been bludgeoned with a hammer.
Police then found three people dead and two more injured. The deceased victims from the scene were later identified as:
- Kristina Riley, 32
- Ayden Riley, 10
- De’ryona Encalade, 9
Riley’s two daughters, 12-year-old Adrianna and 14-year-old Nashawna were taken to the hospital for critical injuries. Nashawna later succumbed to her injuries, reclassifying the case as a quadruple homicide.
It was revealed the children were attacked while they were sleeping, then attacked Riley when she arrived home. Officials confirmed Leonard later admitted to being on crack cocaine at the time of the attack.
In June 2019, District Attorney Paul Connick announced he would be seeking out the death penalty for the crime. However, the penalty was reduced to life in prison–with help.
“The death penalty got taken off the table because I took it off the table. I took it off and decided life in the penitentiary for him,” said Rhodes.
Rhodes says the prison sentence and balloon release help, but the loss and pain will never completely heal.
“We’ve still got a long road to go. Just because we got justice today, doesn’t mean that it’s easy and we’re going to move on ASAP. We have a long ways to go still.”