Only one of New Orleans’ 162 homicides of last year has been successfully prosecuted–a man convicted of killing his lover, sayst he New Orleans Times-Picayune. Most local murders stem from drug trafficking and other criminal endeavors in poor, predominantly African-American communities, along with what one expert called “respect beefs” over wounded pride of the kind once settled with fists. More than 80 percent of the 162 murder victims last year were black men. All but five of the 58 suspects police arrested were black men, typically young black men.
District Attorney Eddie Jordan’s office accepted only 55 percent of the 42 cases the police have brought so far to prosecutors from last year’s homicide pool. Researcher David Kennedy of the John Jay College of Criminal Justice said the New Orleans police clearance rate of about 43 percent is “remarkably good,” especially considering the investigative challenges posed by the neighborhood dislocation after Katrina. Of the 162 homicides last year, 105 occurred on the street, on a front porch, in a car or otherwise in public view. Forty-eight of those homicides happened during daylight hours. Even murders where police persuade at least one person to come forward, the witness often shrinks from testifying later, the single greatest obstacle for the district attorney’s office, said prosecutors in Jordan’s homicide unit.