GONZALES - An Ascension Parish grand jury indicted on Thursday morning a man accused in a May 4 slaying at Suthern Kumfort’s Lounge in Prairieville, prosecutors said.
Assistant District Attorney Ben Johnson said the grand jury returned a true bill for second-degree murder against Zachary Pusch, 20, of Prairieville, in the death of Willis Tanner IV, 28, of St. Amant.
The grand jury was convened at the parish courthouse annex in Gonzales.
If convicted of the charge, Pusch faces a mandatory life sentence in prison.
Pusch was working for the alleged owner of the club, Steve Duke, 56, of Prairieville, to erase surveillance video tape of Duke having sex with a woman in the club business office, deputies have said.
Pusch was being paid the night of the slaying with alcoholic beverages for his work and was later found he had a blood-alcohol content of 0.04 percent, deputies have said.
Tanner’s slaying was the second at the strip club on Airline Highway since April 2008.
The club closed on May 6 after deputies learned it was operating on an invalid 2011 sexually oriented business license at the time of slaying. The club needs the license to operate in the parish and has not reopened.
On Wednesday, a parish hearing officer upheld the May 5 denial of the club’s application for a valid sexually oriented business license.
The listed ownership of the club changed in January and the license was being sought at the time of the slaying, attorneys and deputies have said.
The Tanner killing also led to criminal charges of filing false public records against Duke and Charles Puckett, 61, of Prairieville, that were created in an alleged scheme to hide Puckett’s actual ownership of the club, deputies have said.
Sheriff’s deputies have said that Pusch severely beat Tanner, a patron of the club, after an argument in the parking lot near the club door.
Pusch had just been removed from the club after an argument with a woman inside, deputies have said.
Pusch allegedly punched Tanner and knocked him to the ground, deputies have said.
A club bouncer tried to restrain Pusch but he broke free and kicked and jumped on Tanner’s head until he lost consciousness, deputies have said.
Tanner later died at a Baton Rouge hospital.