Man indicted for murder at New Orleans East playground faces life sentence if convicted

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Dwight Sparrow

NEW ORLEANS – On October 22, District Attorney Leon Cannizzaro’s office announced it secured a murder indictment against a man accused of fatally shooting another man at a New Orleans East playground.

The shooting happened back in August.

In the three-count indictment handed up by an Orleans Parish grand jury, 47-year-old Dwight Sparrow was charged with the second-degree murder of 33-year-old Benny Roberts.

Sparrow also was charged with being a felon in possession of a firearm and with obstructing justice in a homicide investigation.

Announcement of the indictment was delayed to give authorities the opportunity to safely return Sparrow to custody, after he was freed upon posting a $500,000 bond following his Aug. 10 arrest.

However, Sparrow has not been re-arrested following the indictment. On Oct. 13, he failed to appear in court for his scheduled arraignment. That arraignment has been rescheduled for Oct. 29.

Sparrow faces a mandatory lifetime prison sentence if convicted on the murder charge. He also faces up to 40 years if guilty on the obstruction count, and 5 to 20 years if convicted of the weapons violation.

Sparrow and Roberts knew each other, as each had a child from a relationship with a woman Sparrow was currently seeing. Witnesses said Roberts and his current girlfriend arrived at the Eastshore Playground in the 7800 block of Buffalo Road around 7:20 p.m. on Aug. 5. Roberts began socializing with people at the park’s picnic tables, while Sparrow waited on a bicycle nearby.

When Roberts and Sparrow finally spoke, a confrontation began. Witnesses told New Orleans police investigators that Sparrow pulled a pistol from his waistband and shot Roberts several times. Roberts was driven by private car to New Orleans East hospital, arriving at 7:34 p.m. He was pronounced dead there 37 minutes later.

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