The Advocate, Baton Rouge, La.
Want to turn yourself in on a murder warrant in New Orleans? Be sure to bring proper ID.
A man wanted in the fatal shooting of a New Orleans East gas station clerk spent nearly an hour Wednesday pleading with deputies to book him into the Orleans Parish lockup.
Frank Sams Jr., 25, hoped to start the process of fighting a murder charge connected to a botched armed robbery at a gas station in September.
But lawyer Kelly Orians, who accompanied Sams to the jail, said deputies at the front desk refused to process him unless he had a state identification card. Sams didn’t have one on him.
Orians said deputies crowded around trying to keep Sams out. Her suggestion that no one would turn himself in on someone else’s murder charge went unheeded.
Orians could only laugh at the situation, despite her concern for Sams and the shooting victim’s family.
“This is all very serious to us, and yet we walked into an agency tasked with protecting our community, and it was like it was a joke,” she said.
The logjam ended only after Orians produced a copy of a news article featuring Sams’ picture and noting that he was wanted. With that, Sams was whisked away as quickly as he came in.
Orians said the whole scene was “nothing short of absolutely bizarre.”
Sams is now being held in lieu of $500,000 bail on a second-degree murder charge. Orians said she went to the jail only to assist in his booking. The Orleans Public Defenders will handle his murder case.
The Sheriff’s Office’s general counsel said it is unusual for someone to surrender themselves directly to jail on a murder warrant, rather than through homicide detectives.
“However, our policy does not require any identification for booking. We are investigating the claims based upon the information provided by The Advocate,” Blake Arcuri said.
Police allege that Sams and Farnell Jackson Jr. were caught on video robbing the Fuel Express Mart at 7220 Hayne Blvd. early on Sept. 18. Store clerk Olah Bessid, 58, was fatally shot.
Attempts to reach Bessid’s relatives were unsuccessful Friday.
Jackson has been in custody since he turned himself in to police in September. He and Sams face life imprisonment if convicted of second-degree murder, armed robbery and other charges in a Jan. 10 indictment.
“Frank did the right thing,” Orians said. “He was wanted by law enforcement, and he became aware of it. He made what is, I have to imagine, a tough decision to turn himself into police, and he did it. He’s eager to fight and have his day in court.”
Sams was already on probation for possession with intent to distribute marijuana and possession of a firearm by a felon.
His case was assigned to Criminal District Court Judge Laurie White’s re-entry court. A re-entry specialist also accompanied Sams during his nearly foiled attempt to get himself booked.
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