Joseph Zeno

The Ongoing Struggle for Freedom, Peace, Unity and More


My name is Joseph Tyrone Christopher Zeno and I am originally from Lafayette, Louisiana 70501.  I’m 26 and my date of birth is 12-21-76, and oh I was raised in East Oakland, California during my childhood years.   I have two lovely children.  A girl and a boy.   My sons name is Jordan Smith and he is nine.  My daughters name is Tyranika and she is eight years old.  I haven’t seen or heard from my loved ones in three years and about ten months, which means I have lost contact of them after being placed in the “belly of the beast”. I’m 6’2”, athletic build, single, love children, enjoy reading and writing, graduated with a 3.5 average and I have dark brown eyes, a ruddy (red) complexion, short hair, a gold tooth, and I’m the third oldest out of six.  Fours girls and two boys, and I’m the baby boy (youngest son).  I’m incarcerated for a murder that took place in Lafayette, Louisiana on December 7, 1999.  I was charged by bill of indictment with second degree murder in violation of La. R S 14:30.1.  After a three day jury trial I was found guilty as charged.   On June 20, 2001, I appeared in court with appointed counsel for sentencing.   The court denied the Motion for Post Verdict Judgment of Acquittal and sentenced me to life imprisonment at hard labor without the benefits of probation, parole or suspension of sentence.

Statement of Facts

It is undisputed that on or about December 7, 1999, I Joseph T C Zeno was at home when my Uncle (my Mother’s baby brother), Jason Leopaul, Shane Hopkins and Anthony Pierson pulled up in front of the house in Jason’s car.  I spoke to Jason for no more than five minutes.  During our conversation we agreed to go riding around, which we did. 

    We all hopped in Jason’s car:  Jason behind the wheel, Anthony on the passenger side, Shane sitting behind Anthony in the back seat and I’m behind Jason.   We stopped by Circle K store to put gas and buy liquor.  We headed out to Broussard, Louisiana, I had told Jason to go to Delondra’s mother, who had told me my clothes had been thrown away, I hopped back in the car and told Jason to go to St Martinville, Louisiana.  As we were leaving out of Broussard, Jason decided to break into a car shop, but I refused and stopped him and Anthony from breaking in the shop by saying I just come home from prison and I didn’t want no part in any criminal activity, then I told him to bring me home. 

    We headed back to Lafayette.  Once we pulled up in front of my crib (slang for house), me and Jason climbed out the car and stepped in the yard where he commenced a conversation of how wrong he was for his actions in Broussard.  He told me he was going to bring Shane home and wanted me to come.  So another side of me saw nothing wrong with that, so off I went. 

    Again, we stopped by Circle K and I bought some liquor for us.  While in the store, Jason said that we would go by some female’s house and that it was up to me if I wanted to go or not.  Me and my weak desire for a woman, you know I had to go and wouldn’t hesitate to admit it, any way I wasn’t in a relationship, so why not go?  We all agreed to Jason’s plan, though he didn’t want to go in his car, for what reason I still don’t know.  He said we would drop Shane off, have Shane get his car and then come pick me, him and Anthony up at his house. 

    Shane stepped out the car once Jason pulled up in front of his house and Jason did like wise.  Jason and Shane were talking for about three minutes, then Jason ran back to his car and hopped in.  Jason told me he would drop me home and come pick me up when Shane came by his house.  Fine.  Instead of going home, I had Jason drop me by Carol’s house on Simcoe, and then I told him if it’s ten o’clock or after not to come get me because I had to go see my parole officer the next day.  He said okay and left. 

    It was about 8.30 pm when I notice Shane’s car coming off of Gen MacArthur (the street I live on).  As the car got closer to where I was, I flagged it down and Shane stopped.   I approached the car and notice Shane was driving alone, so I ask him where Jason and Anthony were and he said he was on his way to pick them up.  I told him to go get them and come back for me, plus I told him not to come get me after ten, and the I stepped away from the car and watched him leave (Therefore, I told Jason and Shane not to come at ten or after). 

    I talked with Carol for about twenty more minutes and decided to call it the night.   I walked home, which is about half a block away from Carol’s house, and my sisters Marion Leopaul, Deon Leopaul and Deon’s friend Keisha was there.   We all was in the house, so I told them I was going with Jason, but changed my mind and told them to tell them I’m not going if they would still be there.  I continue drinking and happened to fall asleep on the couch.  Jason was pushing me while I was knocked out on the couch, so I open my eyes and told him I wasn’t going. 

    About ten minutes later Jason came back and woke me up.   He said they were ready to go by the female friends and one of them wanted to meet me.  I jumped up, ran to the bathroom and fix myself up, you know, get myself together.   We got in Shane’s car, went to Circle K and got some more beer, and then we went to Jason’s house.   He went to use the phone to tell them we were on our way, so he say.   Jason was leading the way – giving directions of how to get there since he’s the only one know these females and where they stay, right? 

    Instead of meeting these female friends, we stopped near a house off of Larrabee Pit Road in Lafayette, Louisiana.  It wasn’t a house that we supposed to be at, however, Jason and Anthony wanted to rob the house but again, I refused and Shane refused.  Jason had Shane park on side of the road a good piece away from the house.  I’m in the passenger seat this time.  All three of them are going to try to rob the house.   I told Shane leave the car keys with me so I can leave if anything.  He left me with the keys and all three of them hopped out the car and headed down the gravel road.  And once they were gone for quite some time, I stepped out the car, took a bathroom break, spotted Jason, Shane and Anthony and went meet them.  I told them to take me home. 

    As Shane and I headed for the car, Jason and Anthony caught up with us and they were goading Shane to accompany them.  Shane refused and was headed back the car with me, but a gun shot sounded off.   I need not say no more.  See pages 2 and 3 that I attached with this notation.

    I’ve been on lock down since 2001. 

    On September 1, 2001, I had escaped from a private camp out of Tensas Parish.  I was at a camp called Waterproof in a town called Waterproof, Louisiana.  I made it all the way to Oakland, California.  My mother was staying on High Street at the time, but now she moved in Lafayette.  During my break-out, I had to get rid of everything, so now I’m hoping the court and D.A. decide to provide me with my transcript, police report, D.A. file and every appeal that was filed into court. 

    So far, I did my post-conviction relief and recently sent it to court, so I hope they see I notice that I’ve been “framed” by Jason and Anthony who testified against me during my jury trial.  Plus, the thing’s that Shane had was taken by Jason: Shane’s music out of his car and his car phone.  Jason admitted to taking Shane’s music and selling it, but never said how much he gotten for it.  Shan’s car phone bill was used by Jason only and they have the bill to prove he used Shane’s phone from the seventh of December until the tenth of December 1999.  Anthony said Jason also had the gun and always had.  Ha!  But that didn’t stop them from convicting me!  There’s no gun powder residue on me or my clothes, nor did they check Jason or Anthony for any.  I want you to know I appreciate your concern and will always keep in touch.

Respect and love

Joseph Zeno #356057
Camp J Gar 2-L-12 LSP
Angola, Louisiana 70712

Pages 2 and 3 mentioned above

Page 2

    Detective John Babin, which the Court granted. The State presented the testimony of seven witnesses and the Defense presented the testilnony of five witnesses, including Joseph Tyrone Zeno. The State presented one rebuttal witness. The State and Defense tllereafter presented closing arguments, and the State presented rebuttal argument. The jury then retired for deliberation. .

    During deliberation, the jury requested the transcript of Defendant's statement. The Trial Court denied this request. Thereafter, the jury requested the defmition of manslaughter. Since neither the State nor the Defense objected, tile Court entered the deliberation room to read the definition of manslaughter. The Court was later notified that the jury reached a verdict. The jury found Joseph Tyrone Zeno guilty of second degree murder. The Court remanded Mr. Zeno to the custody of the Lafayette Parish Sheriff's Department and set sentencing for June 20, 2001.

    On June 20, 2001, Joseph Tyrone Zeno appeared in Court With appointed counsel for sentencing. Defense at this time filed a Motion for Post Verdict Judgment of Acquittal. Both the State and Defense presented brief arguments to the Court. The Court denied the Motion for Post Verdict Judgment of Acquittal and sentenced Joseph Tyrone Zeno to life imprisonment at hard labor without the benefits of probation, parole or suspension of sentence.*  The Court advised Joseph Tyrone Zeno that he had two years in which to file for post conviction relief.


    It is undisputed that on or about December 8, 1999, Joseph Tyrone Zeno, Jason Leopold, Shane Hopkins and Anthony Pierson were driving around in Jason Leopold's car. It is important to note that Jason Leopold is the uncle of Joseph Tyrone Zeno. According to trial testimony of Joseph Tyrone Zeno, Jason Leopold suggested that they burglarize a car audio shop in Broussard, Louisiana. Once in Broussard, Jason Leopold and Anthony Pierson armed themselves with crowbars or similar objects with the intention of breaking tile locks and/or windows of the shop. Joseph Tyrone Zeno urged Mr. Leopold and Mr. Pierson not to break into tile shop. Mr. Zeno further advised them that he did not want to be a part of any illegal activity because he was recently released from prison atid was currently awaiting a parole transfer to Oakland, California
* The Defendant did not waive the delays for sentencing pursuant to Louisiana Code of Criminal Procedures Article 873 and State v. Bell, 327 So.2d 275 (La. 1979). However, pursuant to State v. Williams, 677 So.2d 692 (La. 1992), and because Defense did not object and request a twenty-four hour delay, the error is harmless. Therefore, the undersigned counsel did not assign this Issue as error.

Page 3

    Jason Leopold and Antllony Pierson testified tllat the idea to break into the shop was Shane Hopkins idea. According to Jason Leopold, Anthony Pierson and Joseph Tyrone Zeno, Joseph Tyrone Zeno adamantly refused to participate in the burglary.

    Thereafter, the burglary idea was abandoned and the foursome returned to Lafayette. Jason Leopold stopped at his residence to pick up Shane Hopkins' car. Jason Leopold then took Joseph Tyrone Zeno home after stopping at a nearby convenience store to purchase beer. Mr. Leopold advised Mr. Zeno that he and some friends were planning to meet several female friends later on that evening. Mr. Zeno asked Mr. Leopold to stop and pick him up so that he could go with them.

    Joseph Tyrone Zeno had consumed a large quantity of alcohol that day and was sleeping on the couch at his sister's house when Jason Leopold woke him to go with them.  Mr. Leopold was having some mechanical problems with his car, so the foursome rode in Shane Hopkins' car. When Joseph Tyrone Zeno got into the car, he did so with the understanding that they would be meeting with some female friends of Jason Leopold.

    The plans, however, changed. Instead of meeting their female friends, they stopped near a house off of Larrabee Pit Road in Lafayette, Louisiana. Joseph Tyrone Zeno testified that the idea to rob a nearby house Came from Jason Leopold and Anthony Pierson and that he and Shane Hopkins were against the idea.  According to Mr. Zeno, when the foursome exited the car, he took a bathroom break while the other three proceeded to the house which they intended to rob. Joseph Tyrone Zeno then
followed them, pleading with them to take him home. He then saw Shane Hopkins turn around and walk back towards him. Jason Leopold and Anthony Pierson caught up with Shane Hopkins, goading Mr. Hopkins to accompany them (Jason Leopold and Anthony Pierson). Shane Hopkins refused. As Joseph Tyrone Zeno headed back to tile car, he heard a gunshot. He turned around and saw Shane Hopkins laying on the ground, still alive. He pleaded with Jason Leopold and Anthony Pierson to take Shane Hopkins to the hospital for medical treatment. They refused. Joseph Tyrone Zeno testified that while he was trying to drag Shane Hopkins back to the car, another round was shot into Shane Hopkins. Mr. Zeno was then ordered by Jason Leopold to help him and Anthony Pierson dump the body into a nearby ditch.  

If anyone can help Joseph in his quest for freedom please write him at the address below.

Joseph Zeno #356057
Camp J Gar 2-L-12 LSP
Angola, Louisiana 70712

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