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People cleanup Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2016 at the home where three people were killed on River Road in Old Jefferson Monday. Dwayne Hanson, 46, his wife, Samantha Hanson, 45, and daughter Sydney Hanson, 20, who was 7 months pregnant, were all killed and Sydney's body set on fire. A suspect Jatory Evans, a former boyfriend of Sydney Hanson, was arrested and booked with three counts of first degree murder and feticide.

Advocate staff photo by MATTHEW HINTON

A 24th Judicial District Court commissioner ruled Tuesday that Jatory Evans will remain in jail while he awaits formal charges in the November killings of his pregnant ex-girlfriend and her parents in their River Road home in Old Jefferson.

Relatives in the back of the courtroom muffled sobs as Brad Roniger, a detective with the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office, testified that an autopsy found 20-year-old Sydney Hanson, despite being stabbed, was still alive when Evans allegedly set her or “something very near her” on fire in her bedroom.

Roniger testified that police and firefighters arrived at the home on River Road on Nov. 7 to find the house ablaze and Samantha Hanson, Sydney’s mother, lying outside, dead from stab and gunshot wounds. Inside, they found Sydney’s father, Dwayne, on the kitchen floor with two fatal gunshot wounds to the head.

Sydney Hanson had recently filed for a restraining order against Evans, who was the father of the child she was expecting before she was killed.

Under questioning by Assistant District Attorney Kellie Rish, Roniger testified that a witness saw a black male leaving the home in a blue car as smoke began to pour from it.

He also testified that Evans had cuts on his hands when he was arrested at his home in New Orleans East that appeared to have been made by a straight-edged weapon. He said the wounds were consistent with those that an aggressor might suffer in an attack.

Roniger said Evans explained he had hurt his hands while working at his job as a mechanic, though he said Evans couldn’t explain how it happened and that his employers said Evans never reported anything to them.

Evans told investigators that he was in Baton Rouge during the attack, though the person he said he was staying with didn’t support his alibi, Roniger testified.

Authorities learned Evans had rented a blue Hyundai Elantra in Baton Rouge and that the car was photographed by license plate recognition cameras entering Jefferson Parish in the early morning hours of Nov. 7. Roniger said the mileage put on the car allowed for a trip from Baton Rouge to Jefferson Parish.

Roniger testified Sydney Hanson’s blood was found in the rented car and that a mix of Samantha's and Sydney’s blood was found in the black Chevrolet Impala that Evans typically drives.

Roniger testified Sydney Hanson’s friends have told investigators that Evans had physically abused Hanson and that the relationship had ended recently. They said this caused Evans to become more controlling of Hanson, to accuse her of infidelity and claim the baby was not his.

Evans, a former sergeant in the Louisiana National Guard who served in Afghanistan, has had several run-ins with the law before, having been involved in a domestic dispute in St. Tammany Parish in which he was accused of threatening to set his girlfriend at the time on fire.

Under questioning from attorney Paul Fleming with the Public Defenders Office, Roniger testified that there were no 911 calls reporting gunshots prior to the arrival of the police and firefighters.

Fleming asked Roniger if Evans had used his debit card in Baton Rouge in the early morning hours of Nov. 7. Roniger said the records showed he used the card at a gas station at 3 a.m., but investigators believe that to be a mistake because the gas station isn’t open then.

Roniger said no traces of an accelerant — such as gasoline or kerosene — were found in either of Evans' vehicles or in his apartment.

Fleming argued that the evidence against his client is entirely circumstantial and no eyewitness put him at the scene. He said no search warrants were executed in Baton Rouge for any other potential attackers, including Jared Parker, whom the JPSO arrested and accused of being an accomplice.

Commissioner Patricia Joyce, however, found probable cause to hold Evans behind bars while he awaits charges.

She denied a defense motion to reduce the $500,000 bail on a count of feticide, or killing an unborn child, and to set bail on the three murder counts on which Evans is being held without bail.

Follow Chad Calder on Twitter, @Chad_Calder.