By MICHAEL KUNZELMAN
The Associated Press
Monday, March 21, 2011; 1:40 PM
NEW ORLEANS -- A gang leader who maintains he didn't gun down five teenagers in New Orleans has pleaded no contest to state manslaughter charges in the case.
The killings cast a spotlight on a surge of violence after Hurricane Katrina and prompted the return of Louisiana National Guard troops to help patrol neighborhoods.
Michael Anderson's no contest plea is part of a deal that also resolves separate federal charges. The 24-year-old pleaded guilty Friday to drug, murder and racketeering conspiracy and agreed to a life sentence for participating in a 2005 murder.
But he denies gunning down five teens as they sat in a sport utility vehicle a year later.
He says he pleaded guilty to the manslaughter charges Monday because the sentence won't exceed the federal sentence and he'll avoid a separate trial.