Two men accused in gruesome 2015 murder of Baton Rouge couple will be tried separately
BATON ROUGE - Two men accused in the 2015 kidnapping and murder of a Baton Rouge couple were scheduled for a court appearance Wednesday.
Ernesto Alonso and Frank Garcia, arrested in October of 2015 for their alleged roles in the murders of Denis and Suzanne Duplantier, were scheduled for a hearing before Judge Tiffany Foxworth-Roberts of the 19th Judicial Court in East Baton Rouge Parish on Wednesday morning.
But when only one of the suspects appeared in court, WBRZ learned that Alonso's presence was waived.
Though officers brought him to the courthouse, Alonso did not appear before the judge.
As Garcia's hearing played out, it became clear that a language barrier was causing discrepancies. For one, Garcia's birthday was inaccurately recorded on the indictment. Though a translator was present in court, miscommunication continued to pose a problem as officials attempted to clarify the matter.
In addition to this, attorneys from a group out of New Orleans, called the Capital Defense Project, were expected to represent Garcia.
However, due to a loss of several key staff members within the firm, CDP will need extra time to determine which of their attorneys will represent Garcia.
In any case, it was determined that Alonso and Garcia's cases will be severed and the two will be tried separately.
A status conference has been scheduled for June 1 and a trial is expected to begin on September 27.
The case centers around the murder of the Duplantiers, who 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.
Alonso worked as a handyman for 71-year-old Denis and 70-year-old Suzanne Duplantier, living on their property.
Police said Alonso beat the Duplantiers until they opened a safe in their home so he could steal the money inside. Detectives said he then kidnapped the couple with the assistance of Garcia and drove them to Hammond, where the couple's bodies were found strangled the next day.
Authorities said license plate readers caught a picture of a white pickup Alonso was driving, which detectives used with witness statements and other video surveillance to track him and Garcia to Miami where they were arrested.
In addition to this, police said Florida authorities also found items from inside the Duplantiers' safe in the home Alonso and Garcia were found in.
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