Tommy Francise.jpg

Tommy Francise

The Plaquemine man was awaiting trial for two decades-old slayings in Iberville Parish died this weekend in jail, Iberville Parish Sheriff Brett Stassi has told WAFB-TV.

Tommy Francise, 63, was arrested in October 2016 in the slayings Curtis “Cochise” Smith, who was last seen alive on Feb. 21, 1991, in Plaquemine and whose body has never been found, and George Barrett Jr., who was discovered dead in his Plaquemine home on March 2, 2002, with two bullet wounds in his head.

Both men worked for Francise at one point.

The lead prosecutor on the case, Tony Clayton, had said Francise shot and stuffed Smith’s body into a 55-gallon barrel, poked holes in that barrel and filled it with water before he tossed it in a bayou.

Clayton said that despite not having a body, they had enough circumstantial evidence to arrest Francise based on their own scientific analysis.

Barrett’s body was found in his own home in 2002, shot twice in the head after he filed a worker’s compensation against Francise.

In the past two years, Francise was diagnosed with stage IV cancer and his attorneys said he was not fit to endure court proceedings and had asked that he be released from jail.

Prosecutors and law enforcement had argued that he should remain incarcerated despite his illness.

The case had been scheduled for a motions hearing on Monday, but he died in the hospice unit at Hunt Correctional Facility in St. Gabriel on Saturday from cancer.