Victims say New Orleans justice system failed them, allowing violent teen to re-offend
Two women, victimized two years apart by the same teen carjacker, say the justice system failed to protect them
NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - In November 2020, New Orleans police say 17-year-old Kyren Washington almost killed Diane Rogers. They say he beat her, carjacked her, and ran her over.
“I had my hands on my steering wheel trying to get my car back,” Rogers tells Fox 8. “He punched me down and that’s when I went down, hit my head which started gushing with blood. I just saw him go back and just run me over.”
Rogers nearly died.
At 61 years old, she had to learn how to walk again. She lives with a large metal plate in her shoulder.
Washington was captured and prosecuted in Orleans Parish Juvenile Court. District Attorney Jason Williams amended the attempted murder charge against him to a second-degree robbery.
“For nearly running a person over, nearly killing them?” Rogers asked. “If the steering wheel would have been three inches the other way, I would have been dead.”
Rogers desperately wanted to testify against her attacker in court, but she was never given the chance. Williams’ office admits the assistant district attorney on the case did not notify Rogers about the court proceedings until it was too late.
Instead, a plea deal was made and the juvenile judge sentenced Washington to probation under the condition that he complete a military-style program.
Fox 8 discovered Washington was never accepted into the program. Program leaders say that Washington’s violent criminal history of burglaries and firearms charges dating back to when he was 13 disqualified him from being eligible.
In June 2021, Washington was released from Orleans Parish custody on probation.
“They’re just free to do what they want to do and that’s why they re-offend,” Rogers says. “They don’t care. They haven’t been held responsible for anything.”
And that’s exactly what Washington is accused of.
On Oct. 10, 2022, police say Washington, now 19, struck again after a Saints game, carjacking a young woman at gunpoint as she left work in the CBD.
“These two guys in ski masks came out on both sides of my car,” the victim, who wishes to remain anonymous, tells Fox 8. “Both with guns in their hands. And I just instantly knew ‘ok, I’m going to do whatever I’ve got to do to get away from them.’”
Stunned, she says it got even more frightening when one of the men shoved a gun to her head.
“He demanded my keys. He demanded my purse. I handed them over and I just kind of backed up,” she continued.
That’s when she says she realized she still had her cell phone in her back pocket.
“I started pulling that out and one of them saw me and he demanded my phone and I said no,” she recalls. “He told me to back up. I just kept doing it. I didn’t want to get shot.”
The two gunmen jumped in her car, but they couldn’t start it.
“My key is kind of broken and I’m the only person that knows how to use it,” she says. “That saved me. I don’t think they had a backup plan.”
The foiled carjackers took off running while the victim dialed 911.
The NOPD quickly responded, chasing both gunmen through the CBD where they eventually ended up at The Italian Pie on Rampart Street. Police were only able to capture Washington, who they say dropped a book bag with three loaded guns inside.
But what happened to Washington between his release in June of 2021 and the Oct. 10 carjacking in the CBD?
Fox 8 found that Washington still had open cases for unknown charges in the Jefferson Parish Juvenile Court system. He ended up in juvenile state custody and was transferred to a group home in Monroe -- Christian Acres Youth Center.
From that non-secure facility, he went into a transitional living facility, where police say he assaulted another offender in August 2022.
He was booked into Ouachita Parish’s adult jail, where he pleaded guilty and was sentenced to time served.
Six weeks later, he ended up back in New Orleans, just in time to allegedly carjack the young woman in the CBD.
Washington is now locked up in the Orleans Parish jail on a $385,000 bond, but both victims say they believe the criminal justice system failed to stop him from re-offending through the years.
“We need justice,” Rogers says. “There’s no justice. He’s dangerous. He’s still young. He’s 19 and he’s on a rampage. It’s got to stop.”
His latest alleged victim is looking forward to her day in court.
“I really do hope that they serve justice and give him some time because he doesn’t deserve to be out,” the unidentified victim says. “I think he will continue doing the same thing.”
Rogers wants to be at trial even though it isn’t her case to support the victim and finally get a chance to face Washington in court.
“I will be there. Definitely,” Rogers says. “I just want to see him one more time and I want to look the judge in the eye and hope they do the right thing.”
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