Port Arthur man sentenced to 20 years for murder

Port Arthur man sentenced to 20 years for murder

Emotions ran high as family and friends of murder victim Marcus “Big Country” Senegal waited for an outcome in the trial of a 22-year-old man accused of the crime alongside the defendant’s supporters, who showed up in numbers the first week of December. After days of testimony, it took roughly four hours Dec. 6 for the jury to convict defendant Keenan “Cheese” Anderson on one count of murder.

The crime dates back to March 2013, when Anderson and Senegal became involved in a dispute at an after-hours club in Port Arthur. According to information presented during the trial, on March 30, 2013, Senegal and his friends went to the Old School Shack in the 900 block of Houston Ave. in Port Arthur where they ultimately came into contact with Anderson and his friends. The two groups got into a heated argument outside the club with the confrontation escalating when Anderson drew a pistol and fired multiple times in the direction of the victim and others.

When Anderson opened fire, a bullet struck Senegal in the abdomen. Anderson’s defense centered on intent, with the defendant asserting he did not intend to kill Senegal.

“Witnesses of the confrontation were interviewed by police, whereupon Anderson was identified by people on both sides as the shooter,” a statement from the Jefferson County District Attorney’s Office asserts. “However, at trial before a jury, most witnesses, in response to witness intimidation, either changed their stories or flat refused to talk. The details of the actual shooting had to come from each witness’s original statement to the Port Arthur Police Department.”

Prosecutor Koby Hoffpauir said the fear and intimidation used against the witnesses in this case just further proved that Anderson needed to be taken off the streets of Southeast Texas.

“Nobody who saw what happened ... wanted to come to court and testify,” Hoffpauir said. “This is a dangerous man.”

To further underscore the violent nature of the defendant, Hoffpauir presented evidence to the jury in the sentencing phase that showed Anderson was on parole for aggravated assault at the time of the shooting and had only been released from jail approximately two months before he killed Senegal.

The jury, empaneled in Judge Raquel West’s 252nd Criminal District Court, deliberated much longer than the four hours it took them to convict Anderson, returning on Dec. 7 with a 20-year term in state jail for the defendant.

“I was very pleased with the jury’s verdict. ... This was a difficult case,” Hoffpauir said. “When witnesses change their stories or refuse to talk about what they saw due to intimidation, it’s difficult to ascertain the truth. However, if this is allowed, dangerous people would never be held accountable for their actions. The jury recognized this and refused to allow such a blatant manipulation of the process.”

Anderson will have to serve one half of his penitentiary term before he can be considered for parole. He will also have to complete the eight-year aggravated assault sentence for which he was on parole when he took the life of Marcus Senegal.