Motions hearing set for September for convicted killer in 1994 Rita Rabalais case

Daveon McCullough, who was convicted of second-degree murder when he was 17, is asking for a new sentence
Daveon McCullough, who was convicted of second-degree murder when he was 17, is asking for a new sentence.
Published: Aug. 19, 2022 at 2:56 PM CDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

ALEXANDRIA, La. (KALB) - In September, one of the nine defendants who was convicted in the Oct. 24, 1994 death of Rita Rabalais, 82 of Alexandria, will be back in the Rapides Parish Courthouse for several motions in preparation of a hearing that will determine if he is among the “worst of the worst” offenders who should not get a chance to be resentenced.

Daveon McCullough, who is now 45 and at the Louisiana State Penitentiary, was 17 years old when Rabalais was beaten and stabbed to death in her Kelly Street home in Alexandria.

In October 1999, McCullough was convicted of the lesser charge of second-degree murder and automatically sentenced to life in prison without the benefit of parole, probation, or suspension of sentence. He had been charged with first-degree murder.

But, in 2012 the law changed. The U.S. Supreme Court in two landmark cases, Miller v. Alabama and Jackson v. Hobbs, ruled that juvenile offenders sentenced to life in prison must have a meaningful chance at parole. In 2016, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the decision was retroactive - putting McCullough’s case back in the spotlight. The ruling means that McCullough was entitled to a chance to be resentenced.

The Rabalais family has pushed back against the idea.

“The justice system here in Louisiana does not work at all for the victims,” said Sharon Yarbrough, the niece of Rita Rabalais, in an interview with News Channel 5 in 2017. The Rabalais family pushed for a hearing to have Judge Patricia Koch determine if McCullough is among the “worst of the worst” who should not be resentenced.

On Sept. 21, McCullough will be back in court again in front of Judge Koch in the Rapides Parish Courthouse, joined by a team of attorneys from Washington, D.C. and the Louisiana Center for Children’s Rights in New Orleans. Judge Koch will hear a series of motions in the case and could finally set an official date for the hearing the Rabalais family has been calling for. New attorneys being assigned to the case and other delays have kept it from happening so far.

The Rapides Parish District Attorney’s Office is looking to keep McCullough behind bars without the possibility of parole. McCullough’s attorneys believe he’s “grown into a mature adult ready and able to live a law-abiding life.”

“Mr. McCullough has actively participated in substance abuse courses, anger management, and multiple adult continuing education courses to prepare him for his life after his incarceration.”

Motion to Require the State to Provide Notice of the Aggravating Evidence It Intends to Rely On (Filed: 5/16/22 by McCullough's Attorneys)

The Rapides Parish District Attorney’s Office is currently working on filing responses to several motions filed by McCullough’s attorneys in the case ahead of the Sept. 21 motions hearing date. Assistant District Attorney Brian Mosley has recently been assigned the case for the Rapides Parish District Attorney’s Office after Catherine Davidson, who was once doing work on the case, began a campaign to run for mayor of Alexandria.

Click here to report a typo. Please provide the title of the article in your email.