A landscaper and his cousin were indicted Thursday on first-degree murder in the kidnapping and slaying of his former employer, a Highland Road couple.
A grand jury returned the indictments against Frank Garcia, 48, and Ernesto Llerena Alonso, 42, in the slayings of Denis “Bubbie” Duplantier, 71, and his wife, Suzanne “Suzy” Duplantier, 70, 5020 Highland Road.
The couple had been strangled and their bodies were found Oct. 19 in the backseat of a pickup truck at a Hammond gas station.
Alonso and Garcia are believed to have entered the Duplantiers’ home, where they beat the couple until gaining the necessary information to access a safe.
Authorities said the Duplantiers were then killed, and Garcia and Alonso drove the bodies to the Hammond gas station, where they abandoned the couple’s red pickup truck in a remote corner of the parking lot and fled in Alonso’s white Chevy pickup. Cellphone records put both suspects near each other at the time of the murder, and police said they have evidence that shows Garcia’s vehicle leaving Baton Rouge on Oct. 18 “in close proximity” to Alonso’s vehicle at the time of the Duplantiers’ deaths.
Alonso, who had worked for the Duplantiers as a landscaper, was arrested in Hollywood, Florida, where authorities said they recovered a large amount of cash believed to have been stolen from the Highland Road home.
Garcia was arrested in Florida a month later, and both suspects were extradited to Baton Rouge from Florida to face the counts against them.
East Baton Rouge District Attorney Hillar C. Moore III said Thursday he wants to speak with detectives and the Duplantier family before he decides whether to seek the death penalty.
Moore would not discuss the evidence in the case, but said, “based on the evidence that I’ve heard, this is the proper indictment.”
Attorneys for Alonso and Garcia said they were not surprised by the indictment.
Dwight Doskey, representing Alonso, said it is still early in the case.
“We have to see where it goes,” Doskey said.
Mario Guadamud, Garcia’s attorney, said he has not yet received any information in the case from the District Attorney’s Office.
Follow Danielle Maddox Kinchen on Twitter, @Dani_Maddox4.