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Man suspected of killing New Orleans booking agent confesses to news crew

NEW ORLEANS, La. (WDSU) - (1/1/19) A man accused of killing a New Orleans talent agent turned himself into police Monday night, officials said. Police identified the suspect as 40-year-old Tyrone Fountain.

According to investigators, Marla Belin, who represented local musicians, died Friday after being beaten and robbed on Dec. 17. Marla Belin had been hospitalized since the attack and was taken off life support, according to her friend, Lani Ramos. Ramos said Belin was a breast cancer survivor who advocated for New Orleans musicians.

"She just wanted to continue that in her life because that was her life’s work in supporting the music here in New Orleans,” Ramos said.

New Orleans police identified Fountain as a suspect the day after the attack, describing the case as a simple robbery involving a struggle over the victim’s purse. An initial police report also said that “the suspect body slammed the victim to the ground, slammed her head on the concrete several times and then struck her in the face. The suspect fled the location with the victim's purse.”

Court records show that Fountain was arrested Dec. 20 on second-degree battery and simple robbery charges. The records show that Orleans Magistrate Judge Harry Cantrell set Fountain’s bond at $20,000. Fountain was then released on bond.

WDSU confirmed that the charges against Fountain were upgraded to second-degree murder following Belin’s death, and a warrant was put out for his arrest. While at the scene of the crime Monday, a neighbor pointed Fountain out to a WDSU crew. Fountain agreed to talk on camera about what he said happened.

Fountain said he suffers from epilepsy and has violent blackouts. He said he knew Belin and was arguing with her about money when he turned violent.

“(She) tells me get away from her, (and) let the dogs out on me,” Fountain said. “The dogs attack me all on my hands (which) were messed up and stuff. I run away -- try to get away from her -- she’s chasing behind me. I go into a panic attack – epilepsy, you know I have grand mal, all kinds of seizures the doctors and stuff can tell you all this -- I black out. She grabs me, so in that case, I’m not knowing what happened. I turned around and I hit her. They say I gave her a concussion and stuff. I don’t know what happened and stuff, but they say I got into a fight with her and stuff and she’s on the ground. They say she’s all busted up and stuff. They say I robbed her and stuff, but what happened was when the dogs got out, I panicked."

Belin's friends said they are disgusted by the Orleans Parish justice system and that Fountain was released.

"I would like for the person that is responsible to be punished," said George Sartin, Belin's friend. "The fact that this guy is out on bail, $20,000, I understand bail, it’s just unbelievable. We’re not going to ever get rid of this kind of violent crime if we keep letting dangerous criminals out on the street."

Fountain said he did not know Belin had died or that there was a warrant out for his arrest on a second-degree murder charge. He said he did not initially plan to turn himself in to police on the new charge but would “let whatever happens, happen.” He later surrendered to the New Orleans Police Department Monday evening.

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