AROUND THE STATE: New Orleans mayor defends appearance in court to support convicted teen robber

Staff Report
In a file photo from Nov. 5, 2019, New Orleans Mayor Latoya Cantrell is shown speaking at a ceremony at the Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport in Kenner.

New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell defended her decision to attend the sentencing of a teenager convicted of carjacking motorists, saying during a news conference she did not side with the perpetrator over the victims.

Cantrell's court appearance set off controversy as victims told New Orleans media outlets it appeared that the mayor was supporting the offender over them.

"I was in shock. She wasn’t there for us. She was there for the assailant and his mother. It felt like she supported the crime," a victim told WVUE-TV.

The 14-year-old who appeared in Orleans Parish Juvenile Court previously graduated the Pathways Youth Internship Program, which the mayor created in 2019.

Reportedly, the juvenile was 13 when he committed the three first-degree robberies. He was sentenced to probation.

The controversial court appearance reached the national level during the week when Fox News' Tucker Carlson criticized the mayor in a segment on carjackings in U.S. cities.

Cantrell also has drawn questions about spending $40,000 on a trip to France to sign a "sister city" agreement.