A New York woman was indicted on a first-degree murder charge Wednesday in the 1984 killing of a Crowley businessman, but a Bossier City man arrested in the case was released from jail after the grand jury took no action against him.
Leila M. Mulla, 47, of Astoria, N.Y., will continue to be held without bond while she awaits trial in the slaying of Gary Kergan. She has been in custody since her Dec. 3 arrest.
In the case against Ronald Dalton Dunnagan, 64, of Bossier City, the grand jury on Wednesday chose to pretermit — which means the grand jury neither indicted nor cleared the defendant. Cases that are pretermitted can be brought back before the grand jury.
Dunnagan, who also has been in custody since early December, will be released from East Baton Rouge Parish Prison, prosecutor Dana Cummings said.
“We presented all the facts to the grand jury. They didn’t feel there was sufficient evidence to go forward,” East Baton Rouge Parish District Attorney Hillar Moore III said in reference to Dunnagan.
Kergan’s brother, Ted Kergan, was in state District Judge Don Johnson’s courtroom when the grand jury’s decision was announced.
“Twenty-eight years ago, the District Attorney’s Office pledged to never give up on Gary’s case, and it never has. Our family can finally move forward in seeking justice for Gary, who was an unwitting victim in a calculated act of murder,” Kergan said outside the 19th Judicial District Courthouse.
“There’s still a process to go through. We’re going to be part of that process,” added Kergan, who lives in Lafayette.
Gary Kergan, who along with his brother owned a chain of Sonic Drive-In restaurants in Louisiana, was last seen alive Nov. 29, 1984, at Mulla’s north Baton Rouge home, police have said.
Kergan’s car was later found abandoned in Metairie, but his body has never been found. He was declared legally dead by the courts in 1986.
Authorities found a significant amount of blood in the trunk of Kergan’s car but at the time could not determine definitively whether it was Kergan’s because the technology was lacking, police have said.
Dunnagan, who was described in news accounts at the time as a drifter, and Mulla, an exotic dancer, were originally arrested Dec. 7, 1984, in Las Vegas and returned to Baton Rouge for prosecution. They were accused of conspiring to rob Gary Kergan.
However, then-District Attorney Bryan Bush declined to prosecute the pair because of a lack of evidence — specifically, no body. Mulla and Dunnagan were eventually released in March 1985.
A recent DNA test of blood found in Kergan’s car confirmed that it belonged to Kergan.
Police said in December that one of the two suspects was cooperating with authorities, but they would not say whether it was Dunnagan or Mulla.
Mulla’s case has been assigned to state District Judge Mike Erwin. Cummings said a decision has not been made whether to pursue the death penalty