Lafayette Judge Denies Brandon Scott Lavergne’s Request To Withdraw Guilty Plea
LAFAYETTE, La. (KPEL) -- A state district judge has denied Brandon Scott Lavergne's requests to withdraw his guilty plea.
According to our news partners at KATC TV-3, Lavergne filed a total of four claims, telling his judge that his personal belongings, such as his cell phone, were no longer needed as evidence and that they should be returned to him. Judge Herman Clause, though, denied this request, saying that since Lavergne wants to withdraw his guilty plea, the possibility of more litigation remains, therefore making the evidence necessary again.
Lavergne also claims since the body of Lisa Pate, the woman he is accused of killing in 1999, was found in Acadia Parish, Lafayette Parish was the wrong court venue for that case. He says double jeopardy should have protected him from a conviction in the Pate case since an Acadia Parish grand jury failed to indict him back then. But Clause countered that since certain parts of Pate's abduction and murder happened in Lafayette Parish, the Lafayette District Attorney was well within his rights to prosecute him.
Lavergne also accuses prosecutors of denying him due process and his right to a fair trial, claiming he had ineffectual counsel. Clause says Lavergne was explained his rights, and he clearly affirmed that his "responses were knowing and voluntary."
Lavergne claims he was tortured and coerced through the media hype of his trial, as well as his placement in solitary confinement. He says this caused him to go insane, therefore impairing "his ability to make a rational choice in any matter." But Clause says a psychological evaluation revealed that Lavergne "was in the high average range of intellectual functioning and factual understanding of the legal process."
As for Lavergne's claims of ineffective counsel, Clause says the "court thoroughly questioned the [Lavergne] regarding his representation by counsel. On page 17 of the Transcript, the court begins by explaining in detail the right to counsel as well as the right to defend himself, with the attorney having free access in private at all reasonable hours. The court asked the defendant if he had any problems, and defendant responded no..."
Lavergne was convicted of murdering Pate and University of Louisiana student Mickey Shunick. He avoided the death penalty in exchange for his confessions and the location of Shunick's body.