Robert Jovantie Marks and Lyntell Washington

Robert Jovantie Marks (left) and Lyntell Washington (right)

A pregnant Brookstown Middle Magnet School educator whose body was found in an Iberville Parish ditch in 2016 was likely killed at an East Baton Rouge Parish landfill, a detective testified Tuesday in the case of a former assistant principal charged in the slaying of the woman and their unborn child.

Baton Rouge police detective Zac Woodring's testimony came during a hearing on a defense motion to quash Robert Jovantie Marks' indictment in East Baton Rouge on second-degree murder and first-degree feticide counts, and move the case to Iberville Parish.

Authorities have said they believe Marks killed Lyntell Washington in East Baton Rouge, dumped her body in Iberville, then left her car with her 3-year-old child inside it at an apartment complex on Newcastle Avenue in Baton Rouge, down the street from where the woman lived.

Tuesday's court hearing was the first time that investigators revealed specifics about where specifically they believe Marks shot and killed Washington, who was seven months pregnant at the time.  

Woodring testified on Tuesday that cellphone records of Marks and the victim point to her being shot in the head at a landfill near Zachary that sits next to a shooting range shared by the Baton Rouge Police Department and East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff's Office.

The same records indicate that the cellphones of both also were in Iberville Parish on the night Washington went missing, according to a police report. That's where Washington's body was eventually found.

Marks, 42, lives in Zachary. He told detectives he met with Washington at the Baker Walmart "just to talk" the night before her car and wandering 3-year-old daughter were found in an apartment complex parking lot.

"The shooting likely took place at the landfill near our shooting range," Woodring said while being questioned by prosecutor Stephen Pugh.

Authorities have said a large amount of blood was found in Washington's car in an apartment complex parking lot on Newcastle Avenue off South Sherwood Forest Boulevard in Baton Rouge. But Woodring testified he doesn't believe she was shot in the car because no shell casings or bullets were found in the vehicle, the windows were not damaged in any way and there was no blood spatter.

"I believe she was placed in the car after being shot," he said.

The detective noted that searches of Marks' residence in Zachary, Washington's apartment in Baton Rouge and the landfill near Zachary yielded no signs of a crime scene.

Washington lived down the street from where her car was found June 9, 2016. Her 3-year-old daughter, who was discovered wandering around the parking lot of the apartment complex on Newcastle with her mother's blood on her feet, led police to the car.

A police report says the girl told investigators she was with her mother and "Mr. Robbie" when she heard a loud noise and saw him trying to clean up blood.

Washington's body was located June 14, 2016, in an irrigation ditch near a sugar cane field off La. 76 outside Rosedale in Iberville.

Margaret Lagattuta, an assistant public defender in East Baton Rouge, claims the actual homicide crime scene is still undetermined so the proper venue for the case to be heard is in Iberville.

State District Judge Beau Higginbotham recessed the hearing until Feb. 10 because Lagattuta said she wanted to question a Baton Rouge police crime scene investigator who was not available to testify Tuesday.

If Higginbotham rules in Lagattuta's favor and such a ruling is affirmed on appeal, Marks would have to be indicted by a grand jury in the 18th Judicial District Court for Iberville, West Baton Rouge and Pointe Coupee parishes.

Marks, who is married, was fired as an assistant principal at Brookstown Middle Magnet after he was indicted in October 2016. He has denied any involvement in Washington's death. A trial date has not been set.

Washington, 40, was an instructional specialist at the school.

Police have speculated that Marks did not want anyone to know Washington was pregnant with his child.

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