One murder, three suspects, more than 300 years in prison

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WASHINGTON PARISH – All three suspects pleaded guilty to their roles in the murder of a 53-year-old Bogalusa man.

The DA reports that 17-year-old Levi Lee, of Tylertown, MS, pleaded guilty, as charged, to second degree murder and two counts of armed robbery. Lee was sentenced to life in prison.

Lance Rouse, a 25-year-old from Picayune, MS, pleaded guilty to manslaughter and two counts of armed robbery. He was sentenced to 100 years in prison- 40 years on the manslaughter charge, which is to be served consecutively to 60 years on the armed robbery charges (60 years on each count to be served concurrently).

A third person, 30-year-old Melissa Smith, of Tylertown, MS, the girlfriend of Rouse, pleaded guilty to two counts of armed robbery and was sentenced to 20 years in prison ( 20 years on each count, to be served concurrently.)

The crime took place on Dec. 28, 2018, when Lee and Rouse robbed the J and Z Quik store, located at Highway 21 and City Limits Road in Bogalusa, about 4:20 A.M.

The business owner, Abdulrahman Taleb, was confronted at gunpoint in the parking lot and shot in his leg during a struggle with the robbers. The victim died two days later from his injuries.

The incident was captured on video, and the robbers were later identified as Lee and Rouse.

Lee and Rouse got about $250 from the cash register and also robbed a customer inside the business of about $180. A woman, later identified as Smith, waited for Lee and Rouse in the passenger side of the vehicle.

When Lee, Rouse, and Smith were identified, warrants were issued for their arrests, but they fled from the area before their apprehension. They picked up a juvenile from a Mississippi motel, and she accompanied them on their attempted escape.

Law enforcement officials in Alabama spotted the group, engaged in a vehicle pursuit of them, and ultimately arrested them.

The Washington Parish Sheriff’s Office, which investigated the case, was able to recover one of the shotguns and pieces of the other one.

Lee and Rouse also are each facing two additional aggravated burglary charges in St. Tammany Parish. They are accused of entering a Covington home late one night just days before the Bogalusa robbery and holding a woman at gunpoint in her bedroom while they stole her valuables, including two shotguns.

The shotguns matched the description of those used in the Bogalusa robbery.

Additionally, Lee pleaded guilty to aggravated arson for setting a fire in the Bogalusa jail, and Burris sentenced him to an additional 20 years in prison. That time is to be served concurrent to his life sentence.

Assistant District Attorney Iain Dover prosecuted this case. The victim’s wife and daughter were consulted and agreed to the terms of the plea, and both gave impact statements before Burris during the hearing.

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