Pence pitches Trump's budget during Baton Rouge visit

BATON ROUGE — Vice President Mike Pence visited Louisiana on Wednesday for the third time since August, meeting privately with a group of small-business owners before delivering a brief speech in front of about 200 people at an industrial warehouse.

The trip came on the heels of the release of President Donald Trump’s 2018 budget proposal, which aims to balance the federal budget and reduce the deficit over the next decade by doing away with the Affordable Care Act and slashing dozens of programs, many of which are dedicated to research, arts and social welfare.

McNeese spring 2017 honor graduates

Thirty-six McNeese State University students received the summa cum laude (3.9-4) designation during recent spring commencement ceremonies at Burton Coliseum.

Eight students were recognized for earning a 4 grade-point average throughout their college careers: Katja Woelfl, Ellhofen, Germany, general business administration; Tiffany Hope Bohannon, Kinder, general business administration; Melissa L. Snider, psychology, Lake Charles; Kristen R. Smith, Sulphur, foreign languages; Bettina Brulhart, Zurich, Switzerland, mass communication; Brandon W. Soileau, Ville Platte, health and human performance; Amy Lien Nguyen, engineering, Vinton; and Alexandra E. Widcamp, Westlake, health and human performance.

Whoa, Nelly: Nelson HR helps Cowboys advance

SUGAR LAND, Texas — No. 1 McNeese State led most of its first-round Southland Conference Tournament baseball game against No. 8 Lamar, but the Cowboys found themselves in a bit of a scare as the Cardinals put the tying run on first base with one out in the top of the ninth.

Then closing pitcher Collin Kober came in, and all of McNeese’s fears disappeared.

'We can use peace': Trump and Pope Francis meet

VATICAN CITY -- President Donald Trump and Pope Francis, two leaders with contrasting styles and differing worldviews, met at the Vatican on Wednesday, setting aside their previous clashes to broadcast a tone of peace for an audience around the globe.

Trump, midway through a grueling nine-day, maiden international journey, called upon the pontiff in a private, 30-minute meeting laden with religious symbolism and ancient protocol.

TOPS aid clears House with tougher standards

BATON ROUGE — House lawmakers voted 53-32 on Tuesday for legislation that would raise the minimum grade-point average to receive a TOPS scholarship from 2.5 to 2.75, despite some lawmakers arguing it could exclude students in underprivileged families.

House Bill 117, by Rep. Franklin Foil, R-Baton Rouge, heads to the Senate for consideration.

Texas man sentenced for indecent behavior

A 36-year-old Beaumont, Texas, man convicted of indecent behavior with a juvenile was sentenced Wednesday in state district court.

Joshua Hall pleaded no contest March 20 to a charge that he showed a 5-year-old girl his “private parts” and asked her to touch them Jan. 31, 2015.

Hall was sentenced to seven years in prison, with two years suspended, and two years’ probation. He must register as a sex offender for 15 years after being released.

LC man charged in fatal shooting

A 20-year-old Lake Charles man has been arrested in connection with a fatal shooting Wednesday morning in the 1500 block of Fournet Street, authorities said.

Lake Charles police said Devlon Willis-Muhammad, of 1517 Fournet St., was charged with the second-degree murder of Robert Bracy, 27. Judge Mike Canaday set bond at $1.5 million.

Lt. Richard Harrell said police received a call about the shooting at 7:38 a.m. He said the men argued and that Willis-Muhammad produced a handgun and shot toward Bracy, striking him multiple times.

Man sentenced to 15 years in stabbing

A 41-year-old Lake Charles man convicted April 26 of attempted second-degree murder was sentenced to 15 years in prison without parole Wednesday in state district court.

Dwayne A. Sylvester Sr. was convicted of stabbing Gerald Carter on Feb. 18 at the Easy Aces Casino, 1825 I-10 Service Road. Video surveillance showed Sylvester taking out a knife and stabbing Carter, who was later treated for wounds to his neck and torso.

“I made a mistake,” Sylvester said Wednesday after apologizing to his family and friends.

Testimony continues in DeRidder motel murder trial

The trial of DeRidder resident Jackie L. Pruitt, who is facing first-degree murder charges in the death of Sonya Ortego last year at a local motel, continued Tuesday with testimony by the lead investigator.

Detective Jared Morton testified about his interview with Pruitt and the investigation that was conducted after Ortego’s body was discovered in her room at Dees Motel on March 24, 2016.

Morton said Pruitt was considered a suspect not only because he had left the scene before officials arrived, but because other witnesses said they had seen Pruitt leaving without a shirt on and appearing “scratched up and bloody.”

Three enter pleas linked to robbery, shooting

Three of seven defendants connected to a November 2016 shooting and burglary in Moss Bluff entered pleas to amended charges in state district court Monday.

Authorities said Austin Jones and Deante Shuffer, both of Moss Bluff, along with Christopher Jones II, of Lake Charles, forced their way into a home in the 2600 block of North Perkins Ferry Road on Nov. 30; shot the victim in the arm and leg; and fled with cash and items to a nearby car driven by Kendrick Yaw, of Lake Charles.

The Calcasieu Parish Sheriff’s Office said Gavin Daigle, of Moss Bluff, helped plan and execute the robbery and provided details on the victim and that two women — Jazmine Washington, of Sulphur, and Ayana Johnson, of Lake Charles — provided false information to detectives afterward.