(WAFB) - Crime is down in the three parishes that make up the 23rd Judicial District. But the district attorney said violent crime in Ascension, Assumption, and St. James parishes has spiked.
There are 37 cases set to go trial this year. 23rd Judicial District Attorney Ricky Babin finds the caseload before him unsettling.
"We've got our work cut out for us in 2016, for sure," Babin said.
There are 37 defendants and 22 murder victims waiting for justice.
"For us, that's a lot of pending homicide cases," Babin said.
One of the cases involves the murder of 12-year-old Talaija Dorsey. Her mother's fiancé, John Celestine, is accused of killing her and dumping her body in a sugarcane field in Vacherie, Louisiana. Police found her body there in July of 2014.
"You would think you would be safe around your family and friends, or parent or step parent, or guardian. There's just no guard," Babin said.
Another case involves a murder in Geismer rooted in domestic violence. Investigators said Monica Butler Johnson, 45, was found in her own back yard, beaten to death with a baseball bat. The suspect is her estranged husband, David Johnson. Babin said prosecuting cases that involve mutual family members require a special kind of strategy.
"If one person lines up with one person or the other, are they going to change their testimony? Are they going to now say they didn't see what they said they saw at the time they were interviewed," Babin explained.
In Donaldsonville, two juveniles will be tried as adults. Kaglin Green, 16, and Kahlil Howard, 17, and two others Tyrell Williams, 18, and Marcus Ester, 21, face murder charges in the beating death of 15-year-old Brandon Augusta. Investigators said in August of 2014, the five males met on the levee, smoked synthetic marijuana and began fighting. Augusta's body was found four days later.
"I know it's impossible to get 100 percent of these cases to trial. But out of these 20 victims, if we can get 17 or 18 tried this year, that would be a big win for us," Babin said.
Wilson Longanecker Jr., the former mayor of Sorrento, is also set to go on trial this year. He is charged with 40 counts of possessing child pornography.