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
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.