Local News Archives for 2013-02

Opelousas Man Found Guilty of Forcable Rape That Occurred 19 Years Ago


            District Attorney Trent Brignac confirmed a 19 year old “Cold Case” involving “Forcible Rape” ended with the conviction of the defendant on Wednesday, February 26, 2013.  After a three day trial which began on Monday, a jury of twelve found Lawrence Walker Lafleur,  age 50, of Opelousas, LA , guilty of Forcible Rape. The rape occurred in 1994.  This case was unusual in that it occurred nearly nineteen years ago.  In 1994, DNA extraction was not available as it is today.  Therefore, evidence from the rape was simply stored at the Acadiana Crime Lab until a suspect could be identified.  Jurors heard testimony from Carolyn Booker, a forensic DNA analyst employed by the Acadiana Crime Lab located in New Iberia.  Booker testified that in 2003, due to the serial killings by Derrick Todd Lee, backlogged DNA cases were outsourced to be worked by a private company.  DNA was extracted from the evidence in this case at that time; however, there was no match to a suspect in this case.  In 2011, Mamou Chief of Police Greg Dupuis was contacted by the Acadiana Crime Lab identifying the name of the person whose DNA matched the DNA found on the evidence.  The match resulted from the arrest of Lafleur in St. Landry Parish on an unrelated charge.

            Subsequent investigation by Chief Dupuis and Detective Marie Potter along with the District Attorney’s Office led to locating the victim in Gretna, Louisiana.  The victim, in her mid-thirties at the time of the crime, related that she was raped by a black male in the spring of 1994.  Her testimony at trial indicated that the rape occurred late in the evening.  Lafleur, wearing a bandana across his face, entered the washeteria on Sixth Street in Mamou, Louisiana.  The victim was alone.  He asked for her money and when she replied that she had none, he forced her into the bathroom and raped her.  She immediately reported the rape to the Mamou Police Department but could not identify her assailant.  The case remained unsolved until 2011. 

            The crime of Forcible Rape carries a maximum sentence of forty years imprisonment. Sentencing is set in this matter for June 6, 2013.

            District Attorney Trent Brignac thanked lead prosecutor, Marcus Fontenot and Assistant District Attorney, Nicole Gil, for their efforts in prosecuting the case.  He further thanked all prospective jurors and especially those selected, for their time and service.

            Brignac also commended the Mamou Police Department for their efforts both during the investigation and throughout the trial.

Ville Platte Chamber Hears Report on Hospice Group


FEBRUARY 25, 2013


    The Ville Platte Chamber of Commerce today (Monday) heard from Paul Schexnayder with Hospice of Acadiana. He reported that Hospice of Acadiana is the only hospice organization in Evangeline Parish with a location in Mamou working with local doctors and nurses from Evangeline Parish. The group is in need of volunteers from Evangeline Parish. Schexnayder says hospice helps not only the very ill person but assists the family and care taker.

     In other business, Chamber Executive Director Camille Fontenot announced that the chamber currently has 148 paid up members. The chamber approved two new members:  Rendezvous Dinner Club and Eastin Pharmacy.

     Camille Fontenot also reported that the annual Chamber banquet is set for Wednesday May 1. Volunteers are needed to assist with decorating, the silent auction and entertainment. Contact the chamber office at 363-1878.

     Chamber members were invited to attend the City Wide Garage Sale planned for this Saturday from 7:00am to 11:00am at the Civic Center Pavillion.

     Jerry Verette with the Ville Platte D.A.V. invited chamber members to attend the first annual Biking Down South festival planned for April 5 and 6 at the Civic Center and Grounds.

Jury Trial Found Ville Platte Man Guilty of Armed Robbery




            An Evangeline Parish jury trial which began Tuesday, February 19, 2012 ended Thursday afternoon with Ronald Craig Pete, 25 of Ville Platte found guilty as charged of Armed Robbery, Aggravated Burglary, and Possession of a Firearm by a Convicted Felon.


The prosecution presented evidence which included testimony and physical evidence.


Late in the evening of June 30, 2012, Ronald Craig Pete robbed Roy Delafosse in his home.  Mr. Delafosse related that a tall, skinny black male entered his home wearing dark jeans, a flannel shirt and a ski mask and held a knife to his throat and demanded money.  Pete then stole Mr. Delafosse’s wallet, an antique pistol and his cell phone. 


The investigation by the Ville Platte Police Department subsequently led officers to the victim’s former girlfriend, Phyllis Serie, who was supposed to meet him that evening.  Instead, Pete convinced Serie to set up the robbery.


The flannel shirt and black jeans the defendant was wearing during the commission of the crime was recovered from the defendant’s residence.    Testimony from the State’s primary witness, Phyllis Serie, testified as to the plan and Pete’s involvement.  In addition, phone records of the victim were introduced as evidence that Pete made approximately 45 phone calls from the victim’s phone to Serie after the robbery.  In addition, there were calls made to Pete’s girlfriend. (Serie is represented by Kelly Tate, her trial is still pending).


            As a result of the guilty verdict, Ronald Craig Pete faces up to 30 years in prison for the Aggravated Burglary, up to 99 years for the Armed Robbery and up to 20 years in prison for Possession of a Firearm by a Convicted Felon.  Presiding Judge Thomas Fuselier scheduled sentencing for July 25, 2013.  Pete was also convicted of First Degree Robbery in Calcasieu Parish in 2007.


 District Attorney Trent Brignac commended the efforts of lead prosecutor Timmy Fontenot and Shelley DeVille who assisted, as well as his staff for their support during the trial.  Brignac also extends his thanks to all of the jurors selected, as well as all the other prospective jurors for their time and effort.  Finally, Brignac expressed his appreciation for the time and effort put forth by the Ville Platte Police Department in this investigation.

Turkey Creek Woman Killed in Accident


FEBRUARY 22, 2013


       A Turkey Creek woman was killed in a freak accident Thursday when a tree fell on her vehicle, according to Turkey Creek Chief of Police Brad Willis. The chief identified the victim as Tammy Theriot age 42 of Turkey Creek. The accident occurred on LA 13 inside the Village of Turkey Creek. Theriot was driving a Dodge Charger traveling south when a large pine tree crashed on her vehicle. The crash caused the driver to lose control of her vehicle, going off the road and striking a utility pole. She was pronounced dead at the scene of the accident.

Evangeline Parish School Board

      The Evangeline Parish School Board approved the recommended  E-Rate  471 Plan as proposed by Technology Facilitator Connie Bertrand. E-Rate is a program where the federal government pays a significant percentage of technology in public schools on a formula based on the number of free and reduced schools in the school district.

      Connie Bertrand reported that Priority One projects will be funded at a rate of 85% from the federal government and 15% from the school district.

       Priority Two projects  includes totally rewiring every school in the parish for internet service. That project which is being mandated by the state will cost $1.9 million dollars. In two years, school districts will begin doing testing through the internet.

     While the school board will receive the Priority One funding, it is uncertain whether the school district will obtain any Priority Two funding.

     In other business, Superintendent of Schools Toni Hamlin reported that Arlene Richard has been selected to become the new Special Education Director and Roxanne West as new Special Education Supervisor. They will oversee a program that takes care of 889 students in the parish.

     Superintendent Hamlin announced that Mike Hazelton was named as new Foreman for the school board maintenance department and Vachansky Thomas as the new Warehouse Manager.

    In other action the school board:

--was notified that the Evangeline Parish School Board along with two other school districts lost a court battle over payment toward the retirement system for bus drivers. The school board is liable for payment of $256,000 for bus driver owner operators;

--reminded the public that for the first time, all juniors and seniors will be taking  the American College Test whether they are college bound or not. The testing will be taken on March 19. In connection with the ACT testing, the board purchased 250 scientific calculators at a cost of  $25,747;

--due to the Easter holiday, agreed to have only board meeting in April, on April

Swamp Pop Benefit Dance Big Success

     The 8th annual Swamp Pop Reunion Benefit Dance was a big success. A capacity crowd of 400 music lovers braved the inclement weather to pack the Ville Platte Civic Center Monday night to enjoy the music and memories of some 20 Swamp Pop music legends. Visitors from as far away as California and Massachusetts danced the night away to the music of Willie Tee and Cypress backing up the music stars. Members of the Diamonds, a popular Ville Platte band in the 1960’s, was recognized and honored. Special guest Nancy Tabb Marcantel performed and Comedian Murray Conque was the special emcee for the night. All of the funds raised are dedicated for the  Louisiana Swamp Pop Museum.

Ville Platte Approves Paying Half the Salary of New Recreation Disrict Director

       The Ville Platte City Council Tuesday, after much discussion, approved a request from the Evangeline Parish Recreation District Board to contribute $15,000 to pay half the salary of its new director for one year The city also agreed to pay the benefits for the new director who will be considered a city employee.

      The $1.3 million dollar recreational facility will be ready to begin its first season of operation this Spring . The board has no funds to hire a full time paid director. They are asking the city to pay half the salary while the police jury has been asked to pay the other half. The jury is currently looking  into the legality of the request.

      City Attorney Eric LaFleur said the board feels the district can become self- funding through the rental of the park for tournaments and special events.

        Arthur Sampson, a citizen, asked the city why the need for a another director since the city already  has directors for the North Side and South Parks. “Why do we need three park directors for a city the size of Ville Platte?”

       The council approved entering into a cooperative endeavor agreement with the Recreation District to contribute $15,000 for one year toward the salary of the new director.

        In other business, Arthur Sampson complained that a city vehicle without any city marking is being used by the mayor for alleged “personal use.” Mayor Jennifer Vidrine explained that the vehicle in question is a city vehicle with city decals. The vehicle is only being used for “official out of town trips, meetings and conventions.”

      In other action the city:

--appointed Yves Wilson as new Street Commissioner replacing Cecil Green who is retiring;

--scheduled Feb. 25 at 11:00am to officially rename West Beech Street “Rev. E.D. Alfred Street”. Rev. Alfred was the first African American to register to vote in 1953.

--scheduled Feb.  27 at 11:00am for the renaming of Southside City Park to “Romeo Hargrove City Park” after the city’s first African American police chief;

--learned that city expenditures for January dropped by $21,465 over December expenditures;

--approved the donation of $500 for the Louisiana Folk Roots festival at Chicot State Park April 19-26;

--announced that there will be a city sponsored “City Wide Easter Egg Hunt” for children ages 1-12 Saturday March 30 at the Southside City Park;

--approved sponsoring weekly teen dances at the Northside City Park from 8-12 midnight beginning Saturday March 30 for teens age 13-18. Admission will be $5 per person;

--authorized the mayor to begin negotiating with the owner of the old Wal-Mart building to look at the city purchasing the building. The mayor is interested in using the building for a Boys and Girls Club, Skating Rink and to hold teen dances;

--called an election for May 4 for the renewal of a 4 mill property tax to help pay the salaries to firefighters and police officers;

--approved the installation of “No Dumping Signs” being provided by the Evangeline Parish Solid Waste Commission. Violators will be fined $500;

--heard Mayor Jennifer Vidrine announce that a film crew from CGI will be coming to Ville Platte to do a documentary about the city and its residents. Ville Platte is one of only 10 cities in the country that have been selected.


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The Louisana Swamp Pop Museum is operated by the City of Ville  Platte is open to the public every Friday and

Saturday from 10:00a.m. to 3:00p.m. Come view the amazing artifacts, photos,records, Wall of Fame and hear the music.

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