Local facing 40-year minimum after guilty verdict

Published 8:52 am Friday, March 6, 2015

District Attorney Warren Montgomery reported that a Washington Parish jury found James Earl, 45, of Franklinton, guilty of manslaughter after a three-day trial that ended on March 4. Earl, who has had at least 10 prior felony convictions, faces a minimum of 40 years to life in prison.

The jury deliberated 40 minutes before returning the guilty verdict to Judge Martin Coady of the 22nd Judicial District. The case was handled by Assistant District Attorney Nick Noriea Jr.

Earl was one of three defendants charged in the death of Raymond Terry Lyons, 45. The other two defendants pled guilty to manslaughter. They are: Donald Dawson, who was sentenced to 10 years in prison, and Ricky Magee, who received 22 years.

On Jan. 6, 2011, Dawson and Tess Starnes went to Magee’s house to buy drugs. Magee instructed them to follow him in their car. Dawson and Starnes then followed in a car, driven by Magee with Earl as the passenger, to Old Jenkins Road. There, Earl pulled headlight-to-headlight to a car waiting on the side of the road.

Starnes testified that, while following Earl, she and Dawson had missed a turn. By the time they caught up to Earl, he was standing outside of the other car and beating the passenger, Lyons, in the head with a two-by-four. Earl then stepped back, pulled out a gun, and fired into the windshield.

The bullet struck Lyons in the chest, puncturing his heart and immediately killing him.