One of the men awaiting trial on first-degree murder in the 2015 robbery, beating, abduction and killing of a Highland Road couple wants to help represent himself.

Frank Garcia, 51, has personally filed a motion asking a judge to allow him to act as co-counsel in his case. He’s already represented by East Baton Rouge Parish chief public defender Mike Mitchell and assistant public defender Lyn Legier.

Garcia, who has been held in Parish Prison since his November 2015 arrest, states in the motion that he "has knowledge of the required ethical conduct, is capable to comprehend the law governing his criminal proceeding and is capable of filing motions in his behalf according to law."

Mitchell declined to comment Tuesday, as did East Baton Rouge Parish District Attorney Hillar Moore III, whose office is prosecuting Garcia and Ernesto Alonso in the case. Moore said Garcia's motion is an attorney-client matter.

Garcia and Alonso, 46, who are cousins, are scheduled to stand trial Oct. 7 in the slaying of Denis "Bubbie" Duplantier, 71, and Suzanne "Suzy" Duplantier, 70.

Trial for men accused in 2015 Highland Road double-murder pushed back to October

Their bodies were discovered Oct. 19, 2015, in the back seat of their red pickup at a Hammond gas station. They had been strangled.

Alonso performed landscaping work for the Duplantiers and lived on other property owned by them. His white pickup was captured on surveillance video as it followed the couple’s truck into the Petro truck stop, authorities have said. Alonso’s truck was later found at Garcia’s residence in Hollywood, Florida.

A safe inside the Duplantier home was discovered open, with cash missing. A large amount of cash and a number of unspecified items believed stolen from the home were found at Garcia’s home in Florida, authorities said.

Investigators said they believe Alonso and Garcia went into the Duplantier home and beat the couple to obtain information needed to open the safe. Blood was found in several rooms, according to police.

This isn’t the first time Garcia has personally filed motions in the case while being represented by court-appointed lawyers. In January of last year, he claimed he couldn’t get a fair trial in East Baton Rouge and asked the judge to move it to another parish. His attorneys supplemented that motion last fall.

State District Judge Trudy White, who is no longer presiding over the case, ruled in March that the high-profile case won't be heard by East Baton Rouge jurors due to extensive pretrial publicity. Prosecutors are appealing her ruling.

Judge: In 2015 Highland Road double-murder, East Baton Rouge jurors won't decide accused killers' fates

After discussions with the victims' families, prosecutors announced in 2016 that they would not seek the death penalty against either man. They face life in prison if found guilty as charged.

Death penalty not sought against two men accused of killing Highland Road couple during robbery, DA decides

Alonso is represented by Capital Defense Project of Southeast Louisiana lawyer Dwight Doskey.

Garcia and Alonso are being held without bail.


Email Joe Gyan Jr. at 

jgyan@theadvocate.com.