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Grand jury indicts Daniel Callihan, Victoria Cox in Loranger murder, kidnapping case

3 weeks 4 days 5 hours ago Thursday, June 20 2024 Jun 20, 2024 June 20, 2024 1:02 PM June 20, 2024 in News
Source: WBRZ

LORANGER - A Tangipahoa Parish grand jury on Thursday indicted Daniel Callihan and Victoria Cox in the death of a Loranger woman and her 4-year-old daughter, as well as the kidnapping of the 4-year-old and her 6-year-old sister.

Callihan was indicted on two counts of first-degree murder, as well as one count each of aggravated kidnapping of a child and second-degree kidnapping. Cox was indicted on one count each of first-degree murder, accessory after the fact to first-degree murder, aggravated kidnapping of a child and second-degree kidnapping.

Callihan is accused of killing Callie Brunett in her Loranger home, while both Cox and Callihan are accused in the killing of 4-year-old Erin Brunett, whose body was found in Jackson, Mississippi. Prosecutors would say where they believe Erin Brunett was killed.

First-degree murder is punishable by life in prison or execution, if prosecutors choose to go that route and a jury and a judge agree. Aggravated kidnapping of a child also carries a mandatory life sentence. 

District Attorney Scott Perrilloux said a decision would come later on whether the state would seek anyone's execution. Making this a death penalty case would likely delay a trial, he said.

"These could be capital cases. I want to talk to the family," he said.

Prosecutors also said an element of second-degree kidnapping is the physical or sexual abuse of a victim, but an assistant district attorney would not say if either of the girls was assaulted in Tangipahoa Parish.

"We do not feel like we have jurisdiction over some of the events that happened in Mississippi," Assistant 21st District Attorney Matt Belser said.

WATCH DISTRICT ATTORNEY SCOTT PERRILLOUX BREAK DOWN THE INDICTMENT HERE.

Callihan is accused of killing Callie Brunett, 35, in her home and stealing her car and her two daughters Erin and Jalie Brunett, 6, and took off with Cox. Erin was found dead in Mississippi but prosecutors Thursday would not say where she may have died. Jalie was injured and taken to the hospital. She was released June 14 and returned to Tangipahoa Parish with her grandparents.

Both Callihan and Cox were arrested in Mississippi and face capital murder and sexual battery accusations in Jackson. Prosecutors there have not said whether they would seek their execution but Jackson Police Chief Joseph Wade said last week it would be an appropriate penalty. 

When Callihan was arrested in Mississippi, he said had no reason for what he did, claiming to be sober at the time of the killing and kidnapping.

"I would kill me...I have told [police] everything I did, and I have agreed to not fight it," Callihan said then. "For what I did? Lethal injection is the easiest thing for me."

Perrilloux said he would not expect Callihan to plead guilty, despite his jailhouse confession, and expressed hope that he would be able to bring the first case. He shares jurisdiction over the crimes with the U.S. Attorney's office in New Orleans and state prosecutors in Mississippi.

"I think this is where this needs to be handled initially," he said. "First of all, it originated here. It involves local people and I feel strongly that this community deserves the right to have it ultimately resolved and decided here."

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