HARVEY, La. (WGNO) — On Tuesday, the Jefferson Parish District Attorney announced the sentencing of a man in relation to a physical altercation that turned deadly. According to the District Attorney, 30-year-old Rondell Lasalle from Marrero was sentenced to 35 years in prison for the manslaughter of 27-year-old James Cole.

According to the Jefferson Parish District Attorney, the incident happened on March 8. Lasalle and Cole were in an apartment in the 1100 block of Orange Blossom Lane when an argument escalated to a physical altercation. At some time during the fight, Lasalle shot Cole in the back.

The Jefferson Parish District Attorney reported that Cole called the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office shortly after he was shot. He told the responding deputy that LaSalle was the shooter in the incident. According to reports, other people who were in the apartment did not see the fight but heard the ruckus and two gunshots. One witness told deputies that they saw Lasalle leave the apartment immediately after the gunshots.

Gretna Police were able to detain Lasalle who was found two blocks away from the location of the shooting. Police found him walking along a drainage canal bank that marks the city’s municipal boundary with Harvey. According to testimony, Lasalle was carrying a backpack, in which there was a 9mm semiautomatic pistol. A fired casing was jammed in the slide, making the pistol inoperable.

Lasalle’s attorneys argued that the shooting was an accident.  Lasalle testified that during an afternoon of playing video games, he teased Cole about the mother of his children. The friction led to an argument that escalated to a fist fight and culminated with Cole brandishing a pistol, Lasalle testified.

Additionally, Lasalle told jurors that he twisted Cole’s arm behind his back in trying to disarm him, and that’s when the pistol fired. Fearing retribution from Cole’s friends, Lasalle said he picked up the pistol and fled instead of calling 911 and trying to help the dying man. Cole died the next day according to the District Attorney’s Office.

Reports show that both Cole and Lasalle’s DNA were on the pistol. Lasalle’s DNA was recovered in far greater amounts, suggesting that the pistol was his, according to testimony.

Evidence showed that Cole was shot in the back at a distance, meaning the pistol was not mere inches from his back when the trigger was pulled, as Lasalle described in testimony. Also, the trajectory that the bullet followed through Cole’s body further refuted Lasalle’s version of the shooting, according to testimony.

For killing Cole, Lasalle stood trial on a charge of second-degree murder. It took a jury two hours to find Lasalle guilty of manslaughter. Additionally, Lasalle was prohibited from possessing firearms because of his criminal history at the time of the incident.

In April, Lasalle was convicted of manslaughter and found guilty of being a convicted felon in possession of a firearm. On Thursday, June 30, he was sentenced.

Judge Michael Mentz of the 24th Judicial District Court sentenced Lasalle to 35 years for manslaughter and 20 years for being a convicted felon in possession of a firearm. Judge Mentz ran the sentences concurrently.