SHS student’s  friends, family protest DA’s plea offer

FAMILY AND friends of Sterlington High School student Alyssa Neitz, who was shot and killed in February, protest the district attorney’s initial offer of five years probation for suspect, outside the juvenile court in Monroe last week. (Photo courtesy Nicholas W. Farrar Sr.)

Family and friends of Sterlington High School student Alyssa Neitz, who was shot and killed in February, staged a protest last week outside Green Oaks Juvenile Detention Center, where the suspected shooter was set to appear in court.

Neitz, 17, died in an incident on Curtis Road in Fairbanks on Feb. 23. Ouachita Parish sheriff’s detectives investigated the shooting and arrested a 13-year-old suspect, who was booked at Green Oaks on one count of negligent homicide. Detectives turned over the investigation to Fourth Judicial District Attorney Steve Tew’s office.

The suspect’s identity is protected under the state’s juvenile confidentiality laws, though Ouachita Parish Schools officials confirmed the 13-year-old suspect was a student at Sterlington Middle School and have referred to him as the kind of student who achieved good grades and never got in trouble.

A preliminary hearing was scheduled to occur the afternoon of May 24 at Fourth Judicial District’s juvenile court, which is on the Green Oaks Detention Center’s campus. The suspect was expected to enter a plea at the hearing.

The preliminary hearing was rescheduled for June 21 at 1:30 p.m., because several officers were unavailable last week, according to Assistant District Attorney Jennifer Johnson.

“If he doesn’t enter a plea on that date, the DA will set a date for a trial,” Johnson said.

At the time of last week’s hearing, several people protested outside the detention center with signs calling for justice on Neitz’s behalf. Among those protesting was the victim’s mother, Jennifer Neitz, who launched a public Facebook group, “Justice for Alyssa Marie Neitz #AlyssaMarieStory,” to publish concerns and claims related to Neitz’s death.

Photos of the protest were sent to local media outlets by Nick Farrar Sr., who has ties to people in the Sterlington community.

Some of the protester’s signs as well as Jennifer Neitz’s public Facebook posts indicated strong emotional reactions, not only to Neitz’s death, but to the prosecution of the suspected shooter, too.

As first reported by KNOE-TV 8 News last week, Jennifer Neitz claimed the district attorney’s office asked her whether she would support a plea agreement imposing only five years of supervised probation on the suspect. Jennifer Neitz told KNOE she objected to the proposed plea agreement.

One protester’s sign read, “Alyssa’s last words: GET the GUN AWAY FROM ME.”

Another protester’s sign read, “HE LAUGHED AT ALYSSA THEN KILLED ALYSSA.”

A third sign read, “MURDER DESERVES MORE THAN PROBATION.”

On Tuesday, Johnson told The Ouachita Citizen that Neitz’s family met with the district attorney’s office last week to discuss a “comfortable” resolution of the case.

“The family is very involved in the resolution of the case, and the DA’s office wants to make sure we stay in contact with them and let them have input,” Johnson said.

“We want everyone to be comfortable and know what the possibilities are.”

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