Photos provided by East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff’s Office — James Mills and Jordan Harris.
A 21-year-old Baton Rouge man described by a prosecutor as a cold-blooded bully was convicted Thursday in the 2014 shooting death of a Honduran man during an armed robbery that went awry.
James Fitzgerald Mills Jr. was unanimously found guilty of second-degree murder in the slaying of Hancy Sanchez, 24, on Oct. 5, 2014, outside Sanchez’s apartment at the corner of Staring Lane and Bayou Fountain Avenue near Burbank Drive.
His co-defendant, Jordan Derrell Harris, 20, also of Baton Rouge, is scheduled to stand trial Dec. 4 on a second-degree murder charge.
Mills was 18 at the time of Sanchez’s killing and lived in the crime-plagued Gardere area of Baton Rouge not far from the murder scene. Harris was 17.
East Baton Rouge Parish Assistant District Attorney Mark White told the jury that Mills held Sanchez and another Honduran man, Miguel Alvarado, at gunpoint while Harris went through the victims’ pockets.
Mills shot Sanchez in the head after Sanchez called out for help from his roommate inside the apartment, White said.
"We’re lucky he didn’t kill Miguel (Alvarado)," the prosecutor told the jury, "or we may never have known what happened."
Alvarado testified that he and Sanchez were smoking cigarettes on the porch of Sanchez’s apartment when Alvarado noticed two teens across the street.
"I’m thinking something’s about to happen. I tell Hancy to watch. He says, ‘Don’t worry about it,’" Alvarado said of the man he considered a brother and best friend.
Before he knew it, Alvarado said, the teens were robbing them. The one Alvarado identified as Mills had a gun and was wearing a black jacket and a cap that did not cover his face.
"It happened so fast," Alvarado said, noting that his wallet and cellphone were taken and Sanchez’s phone was taken.
The teen with the gun asked Sanchez for the password to his phone, and after Sanchez told him he didn’t know the password, Sanchez called out for Dany Maldonado, his roommate.
"Hancy says, ‘Dany, Dany.’ He shoots Hancy in the head," Alvarado said of Mills.
As Mills turned and ran, Alvarado yanked the black leather jacket off Mills. That jacket was retrieved outside the apartment, along with the gun used to shoot Sanchez and two cellphones belonging to Mills.
Mills’ DNA was found on the gun, jacket and phones. Harris’ DNA was discovered on the gun and jacket too.
Mills’ attorney, Carson Marcantel, reminded jurors that another man’s DNA also was found on the gun and jacket.
"Who was the last person holding the gun?" Marcantel asked.
Sanchez, who was not a legal U.S. resident, had lived in the Baton Rouge area for the better part of a decade.
Mills faces a mandatory term of life in prison when state District Judge Bonnie Jackson sentences him Aug. 23.