Jul 18, 2012 3:21 PM by Chris Welty

Grand Jury to Decide if Enough Evidence in Shunick Case

A grand jury will meet today to decide if there's enough evidence to indict Brandon Scott Lavergne, the man charged with aggravated kidnapping and first-degree murder of Mickey Shunick.

Brandon Lavergne will not make the walk from the Lafayette Parish Jail to the courthouse today. District Attorney Mike Harson says Lavergne wasn't invited to testify and he has no right to attend. I spoke with a Lafayette criminal defense attorney not working on this case to get answers on what strategies the defense may use.

For forty-four years Thomas Guilbeau has practiced criminal law in Lafayette, covering a variety of cases including homicides and death penalty cases. He says it won't be hard to get an indictment from a grand jury in Lavergne's case.

"Their level of burden in this is not beyond reasonable doubt, it is basically probable cause," said Guilbeau.

During a grand jury, the defense is left in the cold not knowing what evidence and witnesses may be presented. The defense does have several options though to try and get information.

"They could ask for a bond hearing for this guy and subpoena witnesses to appear that may know something for the case to get on a fishing expedition."

If Lavergne is indicted, he's not entitled to a preliminary hearing, which is where the defense would receive a wealth of information including possible evidence.

"It's a smart move on the D.A.'s part and they have to indict in a murder case."

Guilbeau believes Lavergne's lawyers will say most of the evidence is circumstantial and rule out every possible hypothesis of what happened the day Mickey disappeared.

"He's setting up an alibi. He was in Jefferson Parish and was attacked. He's going to say I was not around Lafayette when this happened. Someone stole my truck and they burned it."

As far as a change of venue, Guilbeau says it really is up in the air because this is such a high profile case and he does believe the defense will use media clips such as an interview Chief Craft gave to the Advertiser a few days ago. "Making comments like he did about the defendant should say where the body is and how it's hurting the family, I think that's fuel to the fire for a change of venue. I think Chief Craft needs to keep his mouth shut and not talk about the case anymore because he's not helping them keep it here," said Guilbeau.

Chris Welty


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