Man Sentenced in Brutal Murder of Wife in Her Opelousas, Louisiana Home
Derrick Hills has been sentenced to life in prison without probation, parole, or suspension of sentence for the brutal killing of Rachelle Arceneaux.
More details provided below...
June 26, 2023: A husband who shot his wife to death at her home in Opelousas then fled to Alexandria before turning himself in to Rapides Parish authorities has been convicted of Second Degree Murder by a St. Landry Parish jury.
According to the St. Landry Parish District Attorney's Office, the fatal incident happened on June 23, 2021, when Derrick T. Hills shot Rachelle Arceneaux multiple times with an AK-47 type rifle in her home on East Prudhomme Street next door to the St. Landry Parish Sheriff's Office Public Safety Complex. KPEL News reported a neighbor who heard the shots ran to the safety complex and banged on the doors to tell deputies Arceneaux had been shot. Deputies found her dead from three gunshots.
Arceneaux's daughter and grandson were in the home when the shooting happened.
After Hills killed his wife, video evidence presented to the jury showed Hills leaving the home with the murder weapon in hand and getting away in her truck. His brother's house was where he ended up before eventually turning himself in several hours after the shooting.
"Our entire team did an exceptional job and should be congratulated," says St. Landry Parish District Attorney Chad Pitre. "We presented sufficient evidence to the jury and won justice for the kids and grandkids of Rachelle."
It took the jury just over 30 minutes of deliberation to convict Hills. He is scheduled to be sentenced by District Judge Gerard Caswell on July 13, 2023. He faces mandatory life in prison without probation, parole, or suspension of sentence.
This is the eighth major jury trial successfully prosecuted in St. Landry Parish in 2023. Let's take a look back at many of these cases.
Suspect Indicted in Fatal Shooting at Anytime Fitness in Opelousas, Louisiana
OPELOUSAS, La. (KPEL News) - The alleged shooter in a disagreement-turned-deadly at Anytime Fitness in Opelousas has been indicted by a St. Landry Parish Grand Jury on charges of Second Degree Murder and Felon in Possession of a Firearm after Harrison Bordenaye died on that fateful day.
As KPEL News reported, the shooting happened on February 28, 2023. Investigators say Bordenaye and Jason Laday - both 34-years-old - had been in multiple disagreements over the past several weeks leading up to the incident. One of those disagreements happened at the Opelousas gym, which in the 1500 block of South Union Street near Donald Gardner Stadium.
Opelousas Police say the shooting happened around 8:00 a.m. when the argument was taken outside where Bordenaye was killed by a single gunshot, despite life-saving measures that were performed by others at the gym and by first responders. This happened despite gym management instructing Laday not to go inside and confront Bordenaye, who was already in the gym.
According to Louisiana law, "Second degree murder is the killing of a human being when the offender has a specific intent to kill or to inflict great bodily harm" and carries a term of life in prison without parole, probation, or suspension of sentence if convicted.
Man Indicted Following Drive-by Shooting Near Benny's Supermarket in Opelousas, Louisiana
A St. Landry Parish Grand Jury has also indicted 17-year-old Sa'davian George on a charge of First-Degree Murder as he allegedly committed a drive-by shooting on April 10th near Benny's Supermarket in Opelousas. Investigators say twenty-one .223 caliber casings were found at the crime scene. Roderick Aaron, Jr. died in the incident.
According to Louisiana law, "First degree murder is the killing of a human being when the offender has a specific intent to kill or to inflict great bodily harm upon more than one person." It carries a sentence of capital punishment or a term of life in prison without parole, probation, or suspension of sentence if convicted.
Man Sentenced in Killing Victim Near Central Middle School in Eunice, Louisiana
A Eunice man is facing substantial time behind bars after a St. Landry Parish Grand Jury convicted him in the November 2019 shooting of another man who was riding his bicycle in the street when he was shot to death.
According to KLFY.com, De’Omante Frank was riding his bicycle on East Maple Avenue when a vehicle pulled up and fired multiple shots. One of the bullets wounded Frank, causing him to die at the hospital. Because of how close the street runs near Central Middle School in Eunice, the school was placed on lockdown.
23-year-old Demyron L. Skinner, who at the time of the shooting was 19 years old, was arrested within a week.
“The shooting appears to be a retaliatory gang action," said then-Eunice Police Chief Randy Fontenot to KLFY at the time. "Players in the investigation have histories of prior shootings in Eunice."
Skinner was indicted for Second Degree Murder but was convicted of manslaughter on Friday, April 14th. Manslaughter carries a charge of up to 40 years in prison. Skinner was sentenced to 35 years in prison.
We have reached out to St. Landry Parish District Attorney Chad Pitre's office for an update on Lainey Claire Lomas, who at the time was an 18-year-old student at Eunice High School. She was arrested over a week after Skinner was taken into custody on a charge of Accessory After the Fact to Second-Degree Murder for allegedly driving the vehicle used in the shooting, according to our news partners at KATC. She was later indicted on that charge, which carries up to a 5-year prison sentence.
This is the fourth homicide trial that has been completed by the St. Landry Parish District Attorney's Office in 2023. The DA's Office has had its hands full with all of the recent shootings and recently announced the addition of more full-time felony prosecutors to combat serious crimes.
Let's look back at other homicide trials in 2023.
St. Landry Parish Grand Jury Finds Eunice Man Guilty in Ambush-style Shooting
OPELOUSAS, La. (KPEL News) March 31, 2023 - It only took a St. Landry Parish jury 15 minutes to find 36-year-old Leonard Miller guilty of killing Clarence Mitchell - both from Eunice - in April of 2022.
Son of Former Opelousas Police Chief Sentenced in Double Homicide
OPELOUSAS, La. (KPEL News) - JaMarcus McClendon has been sentenced to two life sentences for the brutal murders of 19-year-old Shawn Parish and 21-year-old Nakia Ramar Jr. - both of Opelousas. According to the St. Landry Parish District Attorney's Office, the murders happened just hours after Parish celebrated his birthday.
The court ordered that the two sentences be served consecutively without the benefit of parole, probation, or suspension of sentence.
19-year-old Shawn Parish and 21-year-old Nakia Ramar Jr. - both of Opelousas - were the two victims in the double homicide that happened in September of 2016. According to St. Landry Parish District Attorney Chad Pitre's office, JaMarcus McClendon used an AK-47 to shoot his victims multiple times during the early morning hours. He was found guilty of First Degree Murder.
"The challenge in this case was the sheer volume of evidence and the number of witnesses involved," said lead prosecutor Alisa Gothreaux.
"We promised the victims' families that we would bring these older murder cases to trial and that's what our team is doing," said Pitre.
In February of 2019, JaMarcus McClendon was indicted in the double homicide case. After getting out of court that during that time, police say he was attacked by a couple of members of one of the murder victim's family as he was being escorted out of the courthouse. According to our news partners at KATC, the two people received misdemeanor summonses for that altercation. Family members told KATC that the attack happened after McClendon allegedly made a comment to one of them.
For the record, Chief McClendon was not in office when JaMarcus was arrested. The elder McClendon did not get elected to police chief until 2018 after serving with the Opelousas Police Department for 27 years, according to the Advocate. He was then defeated in 2022.