Officials: La. inmate attempted to smuggle items soaked in marijuana, roach spray

Deputies believe a relative may have aimed to give the inmate documents soaked in synthetic marijuana or roach spray

By Matt Sledge
The Advocate

BATON ROUGE, La. — A New Orleans man who recently blew up his second chance to avoid a life sentence is now suspected of trying to have drugs smuggled into the city's jail through the courthouse, authorities said.

Investigators are probing whether Kyron Theophile, 32, attempted to receive an unusual form of contraband during a court hearing last week: documents soaked in either synthetic marijuana or, in a more far-fetched possibility, roach spray.

On Nov. 13, Sheriff’s Office deputies detained a relative of Theophile’s outside Criminal District Court on suspicion he was trying to deliver drugs to Theophile.

Deputies believe the relative may have aimed to give Theophile documents soaked in synthetic marijuana or roach spray, said Blake Arcuri, general counsel for the Sheriff’s Office.

The documents are being tested. No arrests have been made.

Because of the alleged attempt at an illicit hand-off during last week's hearing, an unusually large contingent of four deputies watched Theophile’s every move Monday as he appeared in Criminal District Court in shackles.

The appearance is the latest in what has become a convoluted tale of missed opportunities for Theophile as he tried to avoid spending the rest of his life in prison because of two cases, one for choking his girlfriend and another for a fatal shooting.

Last month, Theophile pleaded guilty to choking his girlfriend under a deal that would have allowed him to receive a 25-year sentence in that case as well as in a separate, fatal shooting.

Yet after pleading guilty to the attack on his girlfriend, which she survived, he refused to follow through by accepting a manslaughter plea in the deadly shooting.

Ad hoc Judge Dennis Waldron said Monday that because Theophile failed to live up to his side of the deal, prosecutors now were free to follow their original plan of using the habitual-offender law to charge Theophile as a four-time felon in the domestic violence case.

“I’ve never come to this court saying, ‘I hope I can sentence someone to life imprisonment,’ ” Waldron said. “The only shoulders this all rests upon are Mr. Theophile’s.”

Because he has so many previous convictions, under Louisiana law, Theophile can receive a life sentence in the choking case without prosecutors having to bring him to trial on the separate second-degree murder charge.

Waldron vacated the 25-year sentence he had already imposed in the domestic violence case and set a Tuesday hearing to sentence Theophile as a habitual offender.

Monday's decision came despite protestations from Theophile's defense attorney, Leon Roche, of the Orleans Public Defenders, that prosecutors were trying to make an end run on going to trial in the shooting case.

In July 2016, Theophile had reached a deal to avoid being treated as a habitual offender in the choking case. But when Criminal District Court Judge Byron C. Williams let Theophile out on bail to attend the birth of a child, he never returned for his sentencing date.

While out of jail and at-large after failing to attend the sentencing, Theophile allegedly shot Gerald Avant, 54, on the front porch of a home on Forest Glen Road on Dec. 2, 2016. He was arrested later that month.

"Had he come back timely, he would have received three years," Waldron said Monday, referring to the choking case. "Had he come back timely, perhaps — key word is perhaps — maybe someone wouldn’t have been killed."

Last month, Theophile's attorney secured a second plea agreement for a 25-year sentence in both cases.

Theophile agreed to the deal in front of Waldron at the time. But when he appeared before Judge Robin Pittman in the shooting case, he would not follow through with the deal, and prosecutors moved forward with a push for life imprisonment.

The alleged attempt to smuggle drugs added a new twist to Theophile's encounters with the legal system.

Authorities in Indianapolis and Polk County, Florida, have raised fears about the recreational use of insecticide sprays. In September, Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd said he believed inmates in his jail were either eating or smoking legal papers infused with bug spray to get high.

However, Judd did not announce any arrests that were directly related to such a spray.

Meanwhile, the company that makes Raid bug spray, SC Johnson, dismissed reports about its recreational use to attain a “catatonic” state as “completely inaccurate” in a statement to Forbes.

“According to our scientific experts, exposure to the active ingredients in these products would not cause the reported effects,” a spokesperson said.

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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