Keith Leleux admits to strangling 61-year-old woman in 2008, sentenced to life in prison _lowres

Keith Leleux

A New Iberia man pleaded guilty to first-degree murder Tuesday in the 2008, cold-case strangulation of 61-year-old Judy Blanchard Landry.

State District Judge Keith Comeaux sentenced Keith Overton Leleux, now 60, to life in prison after he confessed to choking Landry until she passed out, then cinching zip ties around her neck until she died from asphyxiation, said First Assistant District Attorney Robert Vines, of the 16th Judicial District.

Leleux admitted to the crime in an affidavit filed Tuesday into the court record.

Leleux offered the guilty plea after prosecutors decided against seeking the death penalty in the case, “to ensure that this defendant had to accept responsibility in court sometime prior to his demise,” Vines said.

Leleux suffers from declining health, Vines said. He’ll serve his sentence without the possibility of parole, probation or suspension of sentence.

Leleux stated he had gone to Landry’s home on Robert S. Drive to demand drug money, wearing gloves and carrying the zip ties “in case he needed to use force or violence in acquiring the money,” Vines said.

Leleux and another woman had gone to Hopkins Street to buy a gun early that morning before visiting Landry’s home, according to affidavits and court testimony reported by KATC-TV. Landry gave them $200, and Leleux said he strangled her when she tried to call police.

Landry and Leleux lived in the same neighborhood, but there’s no indication that they were friends or anything more than acquaintances, Vines said.

The alleged involvement that day of another woman, who has not been named, “is something we will certainly follow up on” in the case, which had been cold from the time of Landry’s murder until December 2014, Vines said.

A grand jury in April indicted Leleux on a count of first-degree murder in the July 1, 2008, murder.

Missouri authorities extradited him to Iberia Parish in March. He had been living with a girlfriend in Forsyth, Missouri, and was charged with a count of domestic abuse battery for allegedly choking the woman, Taney County authorities have said.

It was then and there that he made “statements in regard to his involvement in this homicide,” Vines said.

Follow Lanie Lee Cook on Twitter, @lanieleecook, or contact her by phone at (337) 534-0825.