Victims: Ernest Marchese, 58, & Ronald Rodrigue, 19, Humble’s accomplice
Crime location: New Orleans
Crime date: August 28, 1967
Partner in crime: Ronald Rodrigue
Crimes: Robbery & murder
Sentence: Life with parole
Incarceration status: Incarcerated
Humble was convicted at 17 of murdering Ernest, a cab driver. Humble and his accomplice Rodrigue and were implicated in the death of cab driver Arthur Grey as well. Humble also murdered Rodrigue. Humble had a parole hearing decades after the murders but was denied.
Julia O’Donoghue, NOLA.com | The Times-PicayunePUBLISHED DEC 7, 2017
Humble was convicted at 17 of killing cab driver Ernest Marchese, and also Ronald Rodrigue, a 19-year-old who police said had robbed and murdered cab drivers with Humble. Both Humble and Rodrigue were implicated in the death of at least one other driver, Arthur Grey, who was found dead in his cab in Plaquemines Parish a few miles away from Marchese on the same morning in August 1967.
A few weeks later, Rodrigue was shot nine times and killed, also in Plaquemines Parish. Initially, Rodrigue and Humble were also thought to be responsible for the murder of two teens, according to reports in The Times-Picayune.
At his parole hearing two weeks ago, Humble admitted to killing Rodrigue after getting in a fight, though he blamed Rodrigue for killing both of the cab drivers.
“If I could change it and make it right, I would. Believe me I would. I want a chance to prove myself worthy to be a good productive citizen,” said Humble, now 67 years old.
At 17, Humble had already married his 15-year-old girlfriend, who had become pregnant while they were dating. His son, now 49 , was born about four months after Humble murdered Rodrigue.
Advocates for Unger and Humble, as well as the staff at Angola, insisted at their respective parole hearings that both men were now different people than the teenagers who committed the killings.
“I believe he is exactly what the court had in mind” when the Supreme Court said juvenile lifers should have access to parole, Kerry Myers said about Unger. Myers, a former Angola inmate who has known Unger personally for 25 years, advocates on behalf of many state prisoners coming before the parole board.
During his four decades at Angola, Unger became what’s known as a Class A trusty, meaning he was considered very low risk by the prison staff, allowed to roam more freely and given a job with more responsibility.
Over the past decade, Unger has ministered to prisoners on death row and given presentations to high school students about how to avoid making bad choices in life. By his own admission, he started turning around his life about 10 years ago when he rejoined the Catholic church.
In many ways, Humble’s track record at Angola has been even more remarkable. He received his high diploma in 1999 and, like Unger, is a Class A trusty who also does outreach to high school students. Twenty years ago, he founded a program at Angola called the Toy Shop, in which inmates make toys for low-income children for Christmas.
Humble’s ex-wife said he could come live with her in Slidell if he was released, and she was willing to give him a job doing custodian work at some of the property she owns. He planned to be involved in the church. Before the murders 50 years ago, Humble had never been convicted of a crime.
Leslie Dupont, Angola’s assistant warden in charge of security, vouched for Humble during his parole hearing last month. He was “totally changed” from the teenager he had been, said Dupont, who has been at Angola for more than four decades,
“He’s a real hard worker. I do seriously think he could function on the street,” Dupont told the parole board. “The other inmates really look up to him.”
‘Keep him there!’ victim’s daughter says
Humble’s conduct in prison is immaterial in the view of Mariann Winn, the daughter of Marchese, the cab driver Humble was convicted of killing. Marchese was found dead on Winn’s 17th birthday. She attended the parole hearing last month. Upon hearing Dupont argue for Humble’s release, she screamed in reaction.”He’s a good worker? Keep him there!” she shouted to Dupont and parole board members.
At parole hearings, inmates are at an inherent disadvantage to law enforcement and victim’s families who oppose their release. The hearings generally take place in Baton Rouge, but prisoners requesting parole, their families, lawyers and prison staff advocating for them are at the prison, appearing at the hearing through a live video feed.
By contrast, victims’ families, district attorneys and others who oppose the prisoner’s release testify before the board in person.
Winn had initially waived her opportunity to testify, but then changed her mind. Just before the parole board was supposed to make their decision on Humble’s fate, she walked up to the microphone to speak, a second chance that typically isn’t allowed.
“My dad was carried out in a pine box. (Humble) should be carried out in a pine box,” she yelled through tears, shaking.
Jimmy Kuhn, a retired judge on the parole board, said the fact that Humble was married at 17 and had a job at the time he committed the crime indicated he should be treated like an adult, not a child.
“He decided he was going to quit school, he was operating a bulldozer and he asked permission to get married. He was mature,” Kuhn said.
In addition to Winn, the Plaquemines Parish District Attorney sent a representative to the parole hearing. The board members cited their presence as a factor in their decision — a unanimous vote to keep Humble in jail.