CROWLEY — Most of the Acadia Parish deputies and detectives had already left the rural home near Rayne a few hours after Skylar Credeur was found dead in a bathtub when the girl’s uncle decided to look where no one else had.
In the back of the attic, in the heat of the afternoon on Aug. 21, 2013, Edmond Credeur found Kerry Wayne Bertrand lying on his back in an attempt to hide.
“He stood up and said ‘I didn’t do it.’ I said, ‘What didn’t you do?’ And he mumbled something about a bathtub,” Credeur testified Wednesday, the second day of Bertrand’s second-degree murder trial. Bertrand, who was Skylar Credeur’s stepfather, faces life in prison with no parole if he’s found guilty by 10 of the 12 Acadia Parish residents seated on the jury.
Credeur was a 20-year-old University of Louisiana at Lafayette student and headed back for her sophomore year. She had accused Bertrand of molesting her for years when she was younger, which led to Bertrand being jailed for months before he was released that August.
Credeur was found submerged in the tub water not long after Bertrand was released, a Dell laptop lying on her chest. Some believed she had been electrocuted by the computer falling into the water.
Calcasieu Parish Coroner Dr. Terry Welke dispelled the electrocution theory.
“I know people see things on TV, and sometimes what’s on TV is not true,” Welke testified Wednesday. The coroner said Skylar drowned, and she had a bruise on the top of her head, marks on her throat, and her lungs were heavy with water.
Bertrand’s attorney, Thomas Alonzo, of Lafayette, repeatedly pressed Welke on the possibility Credeur was electrocuted, but Welke stuck to his medical opinion.
“The cause of death was drowning, sir,” said Welke, a forensic pathologist who performed the autopsy.
However, there is no DNA evidence directly linking Bertrand to Credeur’s death, Acadiana Crime Lab DNA analyst Bethany Harris testified. Harris said the many swabs of DNA taken from the crime scene show only that Bertrand “could not be excluded” as a suspect who left identifying molecular evidence in that bathroom.
Judge Kristian Earles’ courtroom Wednesday had many of Credeur’s friends and family sitting in the gallery. Not sitting with them was Alidia Credeur Bertrand, the defendant’s wife and Credeur’s mother, who is expected to testify Thursday.
It was Alidia Bertrand who first found Credeur and called the Sheriff’s Office. The first to arrive was Deputy Lonnis Domingue, at one minute before noon.
Alidia Bertrand “was very distraught and standing outside the residence,” Domingue testified. “Apparently someone went into that bathroom because that child was dead. … There was a threat of an individual being in (the home). I was concerned about my well-being also.”
But Domingue and the other deputies and detectives who arrived found no one in the home who could have killed her until Credeur’s Uncle Edmond found Bertrand in the attic.
One of Edmond Credeur’s twin stepsons, Corey Arnaud, testified he followed him into the attic.
Arnaud said he too asked Bertrand why he was in the attic. He said Bertrand answered him with a question: “When you find your stepdaughter dead in the bath tub, what would you do?”
“I’d call 911,” Arnaud said.
The trial resumes Thursday morning, with prosecutor Burleigh Doga calling the last witnesses for the prosecution. Sitting beside Doga is District Attorney Keith Stutes.
It is unknown if Bertrand’s attorneys, Alonzo and David Rubin, will call witnesses or if Bertrand will testify in his own defense.