Prosecutors disclosed Thursday they had recently received from Baton Rouge police a box of evidence regarding double homicide on Highland Road  — six years after the killings and two months before the first trial is to begin.

Frank Garcia is scheduled to stand trial Sept. 27 on a first-degree murder charge following the 2015 robbery, beating, abduction and strangling of Denis and Suzanne Duplantier.

East Baton Rouge Parish District Attorney Hillar Moore III said he believes that Garcia's trial can still go forward.

"I don't believe this disclosure, although it's late, should delay the trial," he said. 

The Baton Rouge Police Department did not immediately reply to a request for comment.

Moore said the majority of the evidence delivered to his office Monday is "consistent with what's already been disclosed and is consistent with the state's theory of the case."

Moore noted, however, that a cellphone belonging to Garcia's cousin and co-defendant, Ernesto Alonso, was in the box of evidence delivered to his office, and a police detective is preparing a search warrant to obtain the phone's contents.

Depending on what is contained in the phone, the district attorney said, the defense may wish to ask for a trial continuance.

Alonso's attorney, Dwight Doskey, said the disclosure by Moore's office is "certainly not a good development for the prosecution."

"Quite obviously it opens up the line of questioning to the lead detective of `and what else are you forgetting/not telling the jury` and `six years from now will there be other evidence?'" Doskey said.

The "state's discovery disclosure" filed into the court record Thursday says the new evidence also includes security camera footage, more crime scene photographs, and detective case notes.

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The filing says the District Attorney's Office uncovered the missing evidence after reviewing the case file and concluding that "one or more pieces of evidence were not in the file or listed on the evidence list from Baton Rouge City Police."

"We have now inventoried the items in the box and are now providing to the defense items that were not previously in the possession of the District Attorney's Office," prosecutor Dana Cummings wrote.

The bodies of Denis "Bubbie" Duplantier, 71, and Suzanne "Suzy" Duplantier, 70, were found Oct. 19, 2015, in the back seat of their red pickup at a Hammond gas station.

Alonso, 48, did 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 vehicle into the Petro truck stop, authorities have said. Alonso’s truck was later discovered at Garcia’s residence in Hollywood, Florida.

A safe inside the Duplantier home was found open, with cash missing. Blood was located in several rooms. Authorities believe the two men entered the Duplantier home and beat them to get the information needed to open the safe.

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.

Attorneys for Garcia, 53, have claimed in previously filed documents that he and Alonso have antagonistic defenses, and the lawyers anticipate that Alonso will try to "shift blame from himself to Garcia" at trial.

Prosecutors announced in 2016 they would not seek the death penalty against either man after discussions with the victims' families. They face mandatory sentences of life in prison if convicted as charged.


Email Joe Gyan Jr. at jgyan@theadvocate.com.