Wed, Jan 9, 2013
Brandon Scott Lavergne retraces his steps the night of Mickey Shunick’s murder in the audio recording below.
Sounds as if Lavergne was building himself a defense the entire time he was coperating with Police.
Below is the Daily Advertiser’s article regarding the recording and Brandon Scott Lavergne recanting his confession.
Convicted killer Brandon Scott Lavergne maintained throughout his talks with police — including his taped confession — that he accidentally struck university coed Mickey Shunick’s bicycle and never intended to kill her, according to recordings obtained by The Daily Advertiser.
Now he wants the court to throw out his guilty pleas in the killings of Shunick last year and the earlier slaying of Lisa Pate, a Lafayette Parish woman whose body was found near Church Point in 1999.
In addition, Lavergne asked the court to throw out any evidence and statements collected after a Lafayette Parish grand jury indicted him for both murders July 18. He claims the indictments were illegal and evidence obtained after the July 18 are “fruits of the poisonous tree.”
Lavergne, serving a life sentence in the Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola, filed documents in December asking 15th Judicial District Judge Herman Clause to overturn his guilty pleas, claiming numerous errors on the part of his court-appointed attorneys, prosecutors and police.
Clause rejected the request Jan. 2 on a technicality and returned them to Lavergne for resubmission.
Lavergne faced the possibility of the death penalty if he had been found guilty in a trial. Instead, he agreed to plead guilty to the first-degree murder of Shunick and Pate in exchange for life in prison.
He signed a secret plea agreement on Aug. 7, directing police to Shunick’s remains in Evangeline Parish that same day.
In a video recording of Lavergne’s Aug. 7 confession to police, obtained by The Daily Advertiser, Lavergne states that he accidentally hit Shunick’s bicycle on St. Landry Street while he played with his computer and cellphone.
He and Shunick then argued, but Shunick voluntarily got into his truck after agreeing to let him take her home, he said.
The Daily Advertiser also obtained an Aug. 7 audio recording of conversations taken when Lavergne rode with investigators to the scene of his initial encounter with Shunick, and to the sites where she was shot and buried.
In that recording, Lavergne repeated that he did not intentionally hit Shunick with his truck, did not kidnap her and did not plan to kill her..
“I never wanted any of this to happen,” he said.
But, in a statement supporting the plea agreement, prosecutors wrote that Lavergne purposely followed Shunick, intentionally hit her bicycle, kidnapped Shunick and intended to kill her.
That statement, signed by Lavergne and his attorneys, was presented as part of his guilty plea Aug. 17.
Lavergne never said in court that day what had happened with Shunick on May 19, and only the state’s version of what happened was presented by then-prosecutor Keith Stutes.
In his handwritten application for post-conviction relief, Lavergne asserted that “Shunick was not kidnapped” and that no evidence exists to support the kidnapping claim that led to the first-degree murder charge.
Lavergne further stated that he “acted in self-defense believing his life to be in danger.”
He has said that Shunick doused him in the face with pepper-spray, then grabbed his knife and stabbed him several times.
Lavergne said they struggled for the knife and, when he got it from Shunick, he stabbed her several times.
Believing Shunick to be dead, he drove to a field in Acadia Parish to dump the body.
That’s when Shunick reportedly jumped up with Lavergne’s knife and stabbed him again. Lavergne admitted he then shot Shunick in the head and killed her.
Lavergne also is asserting in his court petition that law enforcement officials from several jurisdictions violated a Freedom of Information Act exemption by “willfully leaking evidence, information and unsupported information about unrelated charges” that proved inaccurate.
The leaks, he said, denied him the right to a fair trial and pressured him to take a plea deal because he did not think he could get a fair trial.
Lavergne also alleged prosecutorial misconduct and a flawed grand jury indictment in the Shunick case.
The petition also lists five reasons for throwing out his plea in the murder of Lisa Pate in Acadia Parish in 1999, including the assertion that her death was not a homicide, she was not kidnapped and Lafayette Parish has no jurisdiction in the case.
An Acadia Parish grand jury failed to indict Lavergne in April 2008 for Pate’s murder.
In his Aug. 17 court appearance, after Stutes described the alleged murder of Pate, Clause asked Lavergne if he agreed that the state had “strong evidence” for first-degree murder.
Lavergne, handcuffed and standing next to his attorney, Burleigh Doga, hesitated several seconds before responding, “Yes.”
In his motions to set aside his conviction, Lavergne wrote, “The state did all of this with one goal in mind, to use it as a battering ram against the petitioner’s choice to exercise his constitutional rights.
“The state committed numerous constitutional violations to break the petitioner’s will to continue to invoke the 5th amendment, and then forced a plea.”
Lavergne alleges in the handwritten court filing that he was tortured while in the Lafayette Parish Correctional Center.
He said he was not allowed outside for recreation, and, for seven to 10 days, was held without anything with which to read or write, no TV or radio, no religious materials, no toothpaste and no underclothing. He was denied his prescribed C-Pap breathing machine.
“The first 2-3 days “» he was stripped naked and placed on ‘suicide watch’ without a mattress to lay on even though he had never threatened to hurt himself,” Lavergne wrote. “This was psychological torture purposely done.”
Lavergne alleged that he had a “mental breakdown” that impaired his ability to make sound choices before his Aug. 17 formal confession.
A clinical psychologist evaluated Lavergne before Aug. 17 and found he was mentally fit to assist attorneys with his defense.
Regarding his defense attorneys, Doga and Clay Lejeune, Lavergne said they were ineffective. He claims he “steadfastly” maintained his innocence to his attorneys and, even though they “knew he was operating at a diminished mental capacity,” they advised him to waive his Fifth Amendment right to remain silent and speak with police.
“But the worst and the most telling violation of all by his appointed counselors was when they abandon(ed) him during the interrogation they had advised him to co-operate in,” he wrote.
Lavergne said he “made it clear he wanted his counselors present at all times during the interrogation.”
But during the Aug. 7 interrogation, detectives placed him in an unmarked police truck and drove him around Lafayette, Acadia and Evangeline parishes, “tracing the events of May 19th, 2012, and asking the petitioner questions the whole time without his counselors present because they left,” he said.