Bogalusa Man Convicted of Murder After Brief Jury Deliberation
Published 12:00 pm Wednesday, January 31, 2024
Following a swift deliberation, a Washington Parish jury found Joseph Peoples, 32, of Bogalusa, guilty of multiple charges, including murder, obstruction of justice, conspiracy to commit obstruction of justice, and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.
District Attorney Collin Sims reported that the verdict was reached on January 26, 2024, after just 20 minutes of deliberation. Assistant District Attorneys Jay Adair and Hank Meyer led the prosecution, with District Judge Alan Zaunbrecher presiding over the trial.
The charges stem from an incident on April 22, 2020, when the Washington Parish Sheriff’s Office responded to reports of an unresponsive individual, later identified as Shawn Whiteside, on the side of Highway 1072. Whiteside had sustained a fatal gunshot wound to the chest.
Testimony during the trial revealed that witnesses observed a silver SUV leaving the area, later identified as belonging to Joseph Peoples. Subsequent investigations led law enforcement to Peoples’ residence, where he was detained for questioning. During interrogation, Peoples admitted to shooting Whiteside but claimed self-defense, alleging that Whiteside brandished a gun first.
However, testimony from Allison Cook, Peoples’ live-in girlfriend at the time, contradicted his account. Cook stated that Peoples had initiated the confrontation, threatening Whiteside with a gun while driving. She recounted Whiteside’s plea for his life before Peoples fatally shot him.
Peoples’ attempts to discredit Cook’s testimony, including plans to bribe her or marry her to prevent her from testifying against him, were revealed during the trial through recorded jail calls and interviews.
In closing arguments, Assistant District Attorney Hank Meyer urged the jury to consider the impact of their verdict not only on the victim but also on his family, emphasizing the pursuit of justice.
Peoples faces a mandatory sentence of life in prison without parole and is scheduled for sentencing on February 26, 2024. He also has three unrelated pending felony cases and a history of prior felony convictions.