Posted: Jul 17, 2012 9:55 PM by Chris Nakamoto
Updated: Jul 18, 2012 7:12 AM
PORT ALLEN- A News 2 investigation found a woman convicted in a deadly drunk driving crash has a unique arrangement at the West Baton Rouge Parish Prison.
Our cameras captured Victoria Gosserand walking around the prison grounds without handcuffs or shackles this month. The video was filmed less than two weeks after Gosserand began serving her sentence.
"If it was us, we would have been in a uniform, shackled," Terri Parker's mother, Debra Cushionberry said. "It's not about what you know, it's who you know."
In December 2009, Gosserand killed Terri Parker and badly injured Kyle Rivere as she drove drunk. Blood tests showed she was four times over the legal limit when the crash occurred.
Parker's mother, Debra Cushionberry and others in New Roads believed Gosserand got off easy just hours after the crash occurred.
"We want to make sure proper procedures were followed and the same will be granted for all," Former New Roads Mayor Tommy Nelson told News 2 in an interview two years ago.
When Gosserand was arrested in 2009 minutes before Christmas Eve, the Gosserand family posted a $100,000 property bond to get Victoria out of jail. In every other parish in the area, the Assessor's Office and Clerk's Office must process a property bond before a prisoner is released. This was not the case in Pointe Coupee Parish, as Gosserand was released on a holiday.
News 2 asked Pointe Coupee Parish Sheriff Bud Torres back in 2010 if he would do the same for others in the parish.
"Would you do this for any private citizen in the parish," News 2's Chris Nakamoto asked. Torres said, "If they have the means and property to secure the bond and if a bond is set by a Judge, yes."
The case dragged on for two years. In March of 2012, Gosserand pleaded no contest to the charges against her. She was sentenced to three years with credit for time served. Sentencing minutes News 2 obtained from the Clerk of Court's Office showed Gosserand is to serve her time without hard labor at the West Baton Rouge Parish Detention Center. Without hard labor means she's a parish prisoner and not under the supervision of the Department of Corrections.
"She's not getting any special treatment," West Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff Mike Cazes said.
However, our cameras found Gosserand walking in plain clothes without shackles or handcuffs outside the prison.
"She sleeps at the prison," Cazes said. "I use her as clerical at work release. She comes over in the morning, does her clerical work, helps with filing which I've done numerous times in this office. If I have the talent I use you."
Cazes said out of 500 inmates at the jail, Gosserand is the only woman in a trusty program. According to the Department of Corrections, work release is not available to women serving time at the West Baton Rouge Parish Detention Center.
"The law doesn't say I can't use them for a benefit," Cazes said.
News 2 found because Gosserand is serving "Parish Time" and not "Department of Corrections Time," Sheriff Cazes makes the calls on what Gosserand does in prison. Currently she is in a cell all by herself, and is the only woman in a prison work program.
"The pain will never go away," Cushionberry said. "That was my only child. I can never see my child again."
As for Sheriff Cazes, he's angry someone tipped News 2 about what's going on.
"It's three years old, and they still stirring the expletive," Cazes said. "I've got a feeling who it is. I'll tell you now, after her time is done, his service will not be needed anymore. He's a deputy. He's running his mouth. He worked for me, got my car, got my uniform and burning my gas. He was running his mouth in New Roads the day she plead guilty and they called me and told me about it. Tell whoever your snitch is, tell him he's got a job for a little bit longer, but I have the final say so. Your service is no longer needed."
Upon Gosserand's release, she will be monitored by the Department of Corrections for two years. She also must speak to students about the consequences of her actions.