About half of last year’s 179 murders in New Orleans occurred in daylight, with spikes at the lunch and dinner hours, a fact that officials and experts say underscores the brazen nature of the slayings and may indicate that many are executions, reports the New Orleans Times-Picayune. Ninety people were murdered between 6 a.m. and 8 p.m., with 19 of them killed between noon and 1 p.m. — more than any other hour of the day — and 16 killed between 5 and 6 p.m. District Attorney Leon Cannizzaro said the daylight killings speak to a pervasive lack of respect for the justice system. “They are not concerned about the consequences,” he said. “They are not concerned about who might be watching.” That attitude stems from a grim reality: Most killers get away with it.
New Orleans police have made arrests in 59 of the murder cases in 2008, or 33 percent of the total. Even if convictions are secured in every case accepted so far — highly unlikely — that would mean the city would punish just one in five killers. Although violence continues at an alarming rate, a downward trend line for killings in the later months of 2008 is reason to believe the homicide rate may continue to fall, said Tulane University criminologist Peter Scharf. “I think we’re heading toward 100 or 120 murders, not 300,” he said. “You’ve had three months in the final five months of the year where we had only 10 homicides. We’ve never had that before.” The daylight murders, he said, might result from killers trying to catch their targets in vulnerable situations.