Four years later, trial looms for two men accused of killing elderly Baton Rouge couple
BATON ROUGE - Four years have come and gone since Denis and Suzanne Duplantier were beaten, bound and kidnapped from their Highland Road home. Their bodies were discovered inside their vehicle at a Hammond truck stop after family members contacted authorities, worried about not hearing from them.
Ernesto Alonso and Frank Garcia were booked days later and charged with their murders. Alonso was found at Garcia's Florida home where detectives also discovered stolen items from the Duplantier residence.
Their trial is scheduled for March 23, 2020, but multiple delays have come into play recently.
District Attorney Hillar Moore said a language barrier, change of venue ruling by Judge Trudy White, and resignation of one of the defendants' attorneys has caused problem after problem with getting the case prosecuted.
Moore said his office is currently appealing the change of venue order.
"When we get serious felonies I tell clients typically 18 to 24 months," defense lawyer Jarrett Ambeau said. "You have to collect discovery and interview witnesses and schedule with the courts, defense attorneys and prosecution. It's not something that happens instant. Our speedy trial rights are not months, they are years."
Ambeau is not representing either defendant in the Duplantier murder case, but said typically time goes in favor of the defendants.
"I tell my clients all the time, time is good for you," Ambeau said. "People get disinterested. Witnesses get disinterested. They go away, they move and are difficult to find. All of that works against the state and in favor of the defendant, because it's difficult to keep track of people and process during that moment."
Alonso and Garcia are both charged with first-degree murder and kidnapping. The death penalty is not being sought in this case.