Dakota Theriot pleads guilty to killing 5 in 2019 shooting spree
WALKER - Dakota Theriot, charged with murdering five people in a shooting spree that spanned multiple parishes in 2019, pleaded guilty Wednesday to all five killings.
Theriot, who was 21 years old at the time shootings, first took a plea agreement in Livingston Parish, where he killed his girlfriend — Summer Ernest — along with her brother and father, Tanner and Billy Ernest.
"This was the best for us," one family member said outside the court Wednesday. "Just get it over with."
After the Livingston Parish murders, prosecutors say Theriot then drove to Ascension Parish, where he was charged with killing his mother and father. He pleaded guilty to two more counts of first-degree murder in Ascension Parish later that Wednesday afternoon.
The plea agreement means he will get five life sentences but avoids the death penalty.
Theriot fled the state after the killings in January 2019, and he was later captured outside his grandmother's home in Virginia. A deputy was quoted saying that Theriot admitted to killing the victims in "pure, cold blood."
A judge had just ruled in December that Theriot was competent to stand trial.
Read the statement from District Attorney Scott Perrilloux below.
“As in any decision made when resolving a case, consideration is given to the victims and their families, the community, and the legal and factual posture of the case in its entirety. The victims’ families have agreed with the defendant’s plea and sentence. We appreciate their patience and cooperation. Mr. Theriot will spend the remainder of his life in prison. Our office has reviewed numerous and extensive psychological records of the defendant setting out a very documented history of his mental illness. Seeking the death penalty, although factually warranted, would lead to protracted and likely never ending litigation for the victims’ families to endure. After much review, discussion, and consideration, we felt this was the best outcome.”
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