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Families speak after guilty plea in three deaths nets 30-year prison sentence

families speak after plea deal dereck viator.PNG
Posted at 3:49 PM, Mar 14, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-15 07:35:47-04

The man indicted on murder charges in the deaths of three people, including his girlfriend, was given a deal that netted him a 30-year prison sentence Monday.

Dereck Viator was indicted on a charge of first-degree murder in connection with the death of his girlfriend, Tyler Domingue, who disappeared in 2014 and whose body was found in 2019 in a Vermilion Parish coulee. He also was indicted in the deaths of Cody Fell and Abigail Clark. Their bodies were found in a burned SUV on Claude Road in Maurice back in 2014.

On Monday, he entered guilty pleas to three counts of manslaughter and was sentenced to 30 years total for the deaths of those three people. Viator cut a deal with the District Attorney's Office, and in addition to the reduced charges and limited sentence - he faced life in prison or death if convicted of first-degree murder - the DA's office also agreed not to file an habitual offender charge against him, which also could have netted him a life sentence.

In 2019, when Domingue's body was found, the DA's office said they were seeking the death penalty. But at that time Keith Stutes was district attorney. Stutes has since retired and Don Landry was elected District Attorney in November 2020.

Also in 2019, police told KATC that they believed the disappearance and death of Domingue may be related to other crimes.

The families of the victims are in shock over the plea deal.

Nearly two dozen of Tyler Domingue, Abigail Clark, and Cody Fell's loved ones were in Abbeville for the March 14 hearing.

Sounds of shock and disbelief filled the court room as talk of a plea deal came up. Families of the three victims tell KATC they are not satisfied with the deal.

"We've said what we've had to say, we've done all that we can do, the rest is up to God," said Janice Cutrera, Cody Fell's mother.

Family members wanted to make sure their loved ones had a voice in court.

"Justice wasn't served, but we're grateful he gave up her body and we have her back. But we feel like, instead of him getting the plea bargains, we got the life sentence because we can't have Tyler back," said Judy Hardy, Tyler Domingue's aunt.

While the plea deal was made official in the court room Monday, moving forward the families are still fighting for justice.

"This man is going to re-offend the minute he gets out. And where's the DA going to be then? They going to take responsibility for what happens when this comes out of jail?" said Abigail Clark's mother Sandra Guidry. "He can't. He can never see daylight again. That's what we're hoping, that nothing else comes of this and he can't get to anybody else like he's gotten to our families."

The defense council and assistant district attorney declined to comment on the plea deal.