Attorneys for a Lafayette man who could face execution in the 2012 beating death of a 3-year-old boy offered to settle the case Wednesday.
The possible plea deal was mentioned twice Wednesday during a motions hearing for Landon Broussard, 28, who is accused of beating and killing his girlfriend's son, Julian Madera, on Nov. 29, 2012. He was also charged with rape after his DNA was allegedly found on Madera, but prosecutors dropped the rape charge pending the outcome of the murder charge.
According to police and an autopsy, Broussard took Madera's lifeless body from his residence on E. Broussard Road to his grandmother's house on Kaliste Saloom Road, telling her a door had fallen on Madera the previous night and that he found the child unresponsive in the bathtub. He was watching the boy while Madera's mother, Laura D. Smith, attended class. But investigators found evidence of a severe beating and long-term physical abuse of Madera: His body was full of bruises, front and back, old and new; his ear and lip were split; and he allegedly had been raped.
The Lafayette death penalty trial of a man accused of raping, beating and murdering his girlfriend’s 3-year-old son in 2012 has been delayed again.
Defense attorney Allison Miller, during a discussion Wednesday about setting a new trial date in September 2020, said the case may be settled long before then.
"We made an offer today to resolve the case," she said in court.
Assistant District Attorney Bill Babin earlier in the hearing said he was approached for the first time Wednesday morning about a possible resolution of the case.
None of the attorneys would elaborate on the possible settlement because they are under a gag order by 15th Judicial District Judge Laurie Hulin.
Documents in the case also are under seal, so the only way for the public to obtain information is during court appearances.
The plea offer may involve taking the death penalty off the table in exchange for a guilty plea and a lesser sentence, such as life in prison.
Defense attorneys Casey Secor and Miller made five motions Wednesday to have Hulin dismiss the death penalty option in the event Broussard is convicted.
The defense arguments to dismiss the death penalty included standards of decency and the 8th amendment to the constitution which prohibits the execution of defendants with intellectual disabilities; the lack of state standards for seeking the death penalty; the unconstitutionality of the death penalty as applied in Louisiana; the inability to reject jurors based on religious opposition to the death penalty; and the systematic impairment of capital jurors based on things such as race, gender, jurors believing the death penalty is mandatory with a murder conviction, and religion.
Hulin denied four of the motions and is researching the fifth in part because she may have ruled on the defense motion and argument in the past, according to discussions Wednesday.
Budget problems at the Public Defenders Office for the Acadiana region have forced the postponement of Landon Broussard’s death penalty trial …
She pressed Secor about pending statements, reports and opinions an expert has been working on since July.
This expert's opinion and analysis could be the crux of the defense if the case reaches a penalty phase, Secor said, adding he would not be properly advocating for Broussard if he told the expert to rush his report.
"If he's dragging his feet and you don't urge him to hurry up, that's not advocating for Landon, either," Hulin replied.
If needed, the defense plans to introduce during sentencing the social history of Broussard and his family going back three generations, Secor said, to explain how one goes from being born to being involved in a capital crime. He said jurors will see what Broussard was subjected to, what things may have poisoned his brain and body and that of his parents. Abuse, he said, "can be a revolving door."
"It's important for the jury to know what Landon has been through," Secor said. "The crux of the penalty phase is his social history, which will help jurors decide 'Do we kill this young man or send him to prison for life?' "
The defense needs to produce the expert analysis, Hulin said, because she needs to give the assistant district attorney six months to prepare for a mental defect defense.
Babin said the prosecution is entitled to review any evidence the defense intends to admit at trial about Broussard's possible mental disease or defects.
Broussard's medical records, Secor said, contain information about his mental disease or defect as identified by doctors working with the parish and state throughout Broussard's life. He said he can't say how the defense will utilize Broussard's mental defects in the trial until he receives the expert's opinion.
Hulin gave the defense 60 days to provide the expert's reports.
The trial was set for Sept. 28, 2020.