LIVINGSTON — A 12-year-old visiting his grandparents’ neighbors in Livingston to see if they wanted coffee was the first to come across the bloody crime scene on Aug. 30, a Livingston Parish Sheriff’s Office sergeant testified.
Authorities were called to 28065 S. Satsuma Road where they found the body of Joy Messina, 47. Shortly after the discovery, they arrested Caleb Lee Lejeune, 27, who was booked on one count of second-degree murder.
Sgt. Brandon Browning testified about the killing Thursday in the 21st Judicial Circuit Court in Livingston. He revealed new details of what deputies saw when they arrived at Messina’s home.
She had “pretty major trauma to her neck” caused by numerous cuts and a “large laceration” to her abdomen, Browning said.
The cut to her torso was so deep deputies could see her internal organs, he testified.
When he was picked up for questioning, Lejeune told investigators he had cut Messina with a pocket knife that Browning estimated was 5 inches long when open.
“(Lejeune) said (Messina) told him to do it,” the sergeant said.
Messina was found covered to the shoulders, wearing a shirt, but undressed below the waist, he testified.
In an interview, Lejeune told investigators that he and Messina ingested methamphetamine the night she died. Deputies found “some suspected meth” in the master bedroom, Browning testified.
Defense attorney Lieu Clark asked if they found any other drugs, specifically synthetic marijuana, but Browning said he could only recall meth.
Messina lived in a trailer about 45 yards from her neighbors, who were also her landlords. Their grandson told deputies he heard yelling from the home about 2 a.m. Aug. 30. When he arrived the next morning about 9:30 a.m., no one answered his knocks. The door was unlocked, and he looked inside, where he saw blood, and he ran to get help.
Browning said the scene showed obvious signs of a struggle, with items scattered around and a coffee table with a leg ripped off.
The landlords said Lejeune had been living with Messina for a few weeks. Lejeune told investigators they had a romantic relationship.
The landlords said Lejeune had a white car that rarely left the trailer, yet was gone the morning Messina’s body was discovered. As deputies combed the scene, one of the neighbors saw the car drive by.
Deputies stopped it nearby, and Lejeune was behind the wheel. He was taken in for questioning and confessed to killing Messina, the sergeant said. Upon cross-examination by Clark, Browning said he was unable to recall the specific timing of events that morning.
Investigators noticed blood on Lejeune’s feet and under his cuticles and found bloody clothes in his car.
Browning testified that Lejeune told interviewers that after the struggle he covered Messina, threw the knife into the backyard, where it was found, took Messina’s cellphone and left the home about 3 a.m.
State District Judge Elizabeth Wolfe found probable cause to believe sufficient evidence exists to continue holding Lejeune on the second-degree murder count. The case is set to go before a grand jury next month.