Charges upgraded for man arrested in Walker High Senior Blakeleigh Weems’ death

DENHAM SPRINGS — Charges have been upgraded for the man accused of an accident that killed Walker High School student Blakeleigh Weems in the first hour of 2024.

Shawn Robertson, 31, of Baton Rouge, was arrested by Denham Springs PD and charged on March 6, nearly two months after the deadly crash. That’s because DSPD was waiting on the crash reconstruction report from LPSO to finalize all charges for Robertson. He was charged with negligent homicide, reckless operation, second offense DWI, operating a vehicle while under suspension for certain prior offenses, and not wearing a seat belt.

Now though, an assistant district attorney for Livingston Parish has upgraded the negligent homicide charge to vehicular homicide. Robertson is now also facing a possession of drug paraphernalia charge, his first offense. One of the differences between the two charges is how much time behind bars Robertson could face.

Negligent homicide carries a maximum of five years whereas vehicular homicide carries a sentence anywhere between five to 30 years.

The New Year’s Day crash

Walker senior Blakeleigh Weems was at a traffic light, coming off the exit ramp at I-12 westbound in Denham Springs at Range Ave., less than an hour into 2024.

Simultaneously, Robertson was heading north on Range Ave. and collided with Weems’ car on the driver’s side. Although rushed to a hospital, the 17-year-old did not survive her injuries. The passenger in her vehicle sustained minor injuries.

Robertson also suffered minor injuries but declined transport to a hospital. His mother arrived at the scene to take him home.

Weems’ blood alcohol concentration that night was 0.0, according to her parents, who received their information from DSPD. Her parents, Nelson Weems and Chasity Johnstone, say that Denham Springs police told them that Robertson’s B.A.C. was .09 when tested nearly three hours after the crash. They also say that police told them that Robertson had THC in his system.

Arrest in Weems’ death investigation

Robertson’s arrest had been pending for several weeks, awaiting the completion of an accident reconstruction report by the Livingston Parish Sheriff’s Office, as DSPD lacks its own reconstructionist. The report was finalized late February and provided to DSPD on March 4.

According to credible sources, the reconstruction report indicated that Robertson was allegedly nearly 30 miles over the posted 45 mph speed limit. At the time of the crash, he was reportedly going at least 70 mph, in addition to allegedly being intoxicated. Consequently, DSPD charged Robertson with negligent homicide and reckless operation, alongside the other charges.

Weems’ parents have been highly critical of the Denham Springs Police Department, claiming various missteps throughout the investigation. Despite the arrest, they still have numerous unanswered questions.

In the wake of this unimaginable tragedy, of my daughter Blakeleigh Weems, I feel compelled to share my families heart-wrenching experience with the public. Our daughter, Blakeleigh, lost her life due to the actions of an individual who, shockingly, has been living without consequences despite having prior driving offenses.

The dismay I feel over the fact that this man, with a suspended license and a prior DWI offense, was allowed to continue his reckless behavior is hard to explain. The devastating outcome of his actions resulted in the loss of our daughter’s life, and has left an irreplaceable void in our hearts.

Adding to the deep pain that we have already endured, we were informed at the hospital that Blakeleigh was labeled as the impaired driver, despite no thorough investigation being conducted. Our daughter’s good name was unjustly tarnished, and our family was left to rectify her reputation, a burden that should have been shouldered by the Denham Springs Police Department.

In addition, communication from the authorities was virtually nonexistent, leaving us in the dark during a time when we sought answers and closure. The lack of transparency and cooperation from the police department only exacerbated our grief and hindered our ability to mourn properly.

As we continue to navigate the difficult process of grieving and seeking closure, we were left to deal with the painful reality that the responsible party day in and day out, for over two months, was not held accountable for the loss of our beautiful daughter’s life.

Our story highlights the flaws in the justice system and I hope by sharing our pain, it prompts change and prevents others from enduring a similar tragedy. We appreciate the community’s support as we honor Blakeleigh’s memory.

We ask for privacy during this incredibly challenging time and appreciate the support of our community as we strive to honor Blakeleigh’s memory and advocate for justice.

Chasity & Kyle Johnstone

While our family finds some solace in the fact that justice is finally in motion, we understand this is still just the start of a very challenging & painful journey.

Our experiences with Denham Springs Police Department during this investigation have been truly unfortunate and disappointing. I am committed to bringing these situations to light, aiming for changes that will benefit future victims and their families. 

Nelson Weems (dad)

“First, let me say during this tragic season, I have personally been praying for everyone involved. I cannot even fathom what everyone involved must be going through. These investigations take a lot of time to complete thoroughly, and I would like to stress that, no matter how fast we would like to get things done, we have to still get it done right, which also means not making a lot of our findings public at the risk of losing the integrity of the investigation. Many different pieces go into completing these puzzles and it is imperative to be thorough.

I would also like to commend the men and women from my department. When an event like this happens in our community, it effects all of us on different levels. These officers have been focused on the task and determined to get this investigation complete to provide everyone involved with some answers. I would also like to thank Livingston Parish Sheriff Jason Ard for providing his agency’s assistance with the crash
reconstruction portion of this investigation and other law enforcement partners for their help over the last couple of months.”

Denham Springs Police Chief Rodney Walker

A booking photo was not provided due to Act. No. 494, which places restrictions on mugshots released to the media for most offenses with exceptions for certain violent crimes.

Download the Unfiltered with Kiran app from the Apple App Store and Google Play to updated on any new developments.

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