Life Sentence for Bogalusa Man in Second-Degree Murder Case

Published 12:34 pm Wednesday, March 6, 2024

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FRANKLINTON, La. – A Bogalusa man has been sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole for the second-degree murder of Shawn Whiteside, Interim District Attorney Collin Sims announced today. Joseph Peoples, 32, was also sentenced to additional terms for obstruction of justice, conspiracy, and firearm charges, totalling 120 years.

The sentence was handed down by District Judge Alan Zaunbrecher on January 26, following Peoples’ conviction by a jury earlier that month. Peoples has a history of felony convictions and is facing three unrelated pending felony cases.

The case stemmed from an April 22, 2020, incident in which the Washington Parish Sheriff’s Office discovered Whiteside’s body alongside Highway 1072. Testimonies revealed that Whiteside had been last seen with Peoples before his death.

“One of the witnesses described seeing a silver SUV, later identified as belonging to Peoples, leaving the area,” Sims stated, highlighting key evidence that led to Peoples’ arrest.

During the investigation, Peoples initially claimed self-defense, stating that the victim had brandished a gun while they were driving. However, conflicting testimonies, especially from Allison Cook, Peoples’ then-girlfriend, depicted a different sequence of events leading to Whiteside’s murder.

Cook’s chilling courtroom testimony revealed that Peoples shot Whiteside following an argument and then forced her to help dispose of the body. Despite Peoples’ attempts to frame Cook and plans to silence her, her accounts significantly contributed to the conviction.

The jury found Peoples guilty on all counts after over 20 minutes of deliberation, dismissing the defense’s argument that Cook was the shooter out of jealousy.

Assistant District Attorney Hank Meyer emphasized the gravity of the case in his closing argument, underscoring the loss felt by Whiteside’s family. “Justice demands you’re speaking not only for the decedent in this case, but also for his boys, his widow, his mother, and his aunt,” Meyer told the jury.

The convictions and sentences are seen as a significant achievement for the prosecution team, led by Assistant District Attorneys Jay Adair and Hank Meyer, in their fight against violent crime in Washington and St. Tammany Parishes.

About Timothy Holdiness

Timothy Holdiness is a native of Louisiana and has been published in several state, national and international publications. He has earned two undergraduate degrees in Biology, most recently from Northwestern State University in 2022. Notably, Holdiness was the 2014 Microsoft Office Specialist United States Champion in PowerPoint 2010.

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