Covering Louisiana

Dec 9, 2013 3:30 PM by AP

BR Police arrest man in 1995 double homicide

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) - Baton Rouge police Monday arrested a 39-year-old man in the January 1995 slaying of a Baton Rouge couple who were shot to death in an apartment during an apparent robbery.

An 11-month-old girl hit in the gunfire survived her injuries.

The Advocate reports James I. Johnson, of Baton Rouge, faces charges of first-degree murder in the deaths of 23-year-old Lester Yarbrough and his pregnant girlfriend, 22-year-old Patricia Jackson. Bond information was not immediately available. It was unclear whether Johnson has an attorney.

Police, in a news release, said a witness recalled seeing Johnson enter his mother's home the day of the killings "crying, cursing and making statements referencing the murders and also that he had shot a baby."

"Johnson and his mother then construed an alibi covering for his actions in regard to the murders as well as a vehicle accident Johnson had been involved as he was fleeing the scene," Sgt. Mary Ann Godawa said in a news release.

Jackson and Yarbrough were found shot to death inside an apartment at the Oak Royale Apartments in Baton Rouge. Jackson was several months pregnant at the time and also had been taking care of her 11-month-old niece, when two people burst into the apartment and opened fire with a large-caliber weapon, police said. The second suspect has not been identified.

Jackson and Yarbrough were both shot multiple times, but the bullet that struck the baby missed her vital organs and did not cause serious internal damage.

The shooting deaths were discovered after a woman living in a downstairs apartment noticed several bullet holes in her ceiling. The woman said she had heard at least four gunshots in the middle of the night, but thought they came from outside. When she got up the next morning, however, several pictures on her walls had been shattered, and at least three bullets had pierced her ceiling.

The victims had been dead several hours before they were discovered, and there was an unknown amount of cash strewn about the apartment's floor.

Anyone with information about the shootings is asked to contact police at 225-389-4869.

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