The daughters of slain Highland Road couple Denis and Suzanne Duplantier waited six years to confront their parents’ accused killers, and after one of those men pleaded guilty Wednesday to manslaughter in exchange for a 30-year prison term, the women didn’t hold back.

Standing a few feet from Frank Garcia in a 19th Judicial District courtroom, Lisa Duplantier called his actions in October 2015 “soulless” and said he caused immeasurable sorrow, grief and pain to so many.

“I hope you spend the rest of your life … wishing you were dead,” she said.

One of her sisters, Terri Duplantier, spoke of the fear her beloved parents must have experienced the day they were killed and told Garcia, “I hope you have to watch over your back in fear” while incarcerated.

“I hate you from the bottom of my heart for the damage you have caused …” she added. “You’re evil! Bastard!”

Garcia, 53, of Hollywood, Florida, would have faced a mandatory sentence of life in prison if he had been convicted of first-degree murder.

His trial ended before opening statements even began. The judge and lawyers took Monday and Tuesday to pick a jury, but shortly after the jury entered the courtroom Wednesday the lawyers gathered again to discuss a settlement.

Garcia's cousin, Ernesto Llerena Alonso, 48, who did landscaping work for the Duplantiers and lived on other property they owned, faces first-degree murder charges in a separate trial.

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

Prosecutor Dana Cummings disclosed Wednesday for the first time that zip ties were fastened around each of their necks and duct tape was placed over their mouths. Suzanne Duplantier’s hands and feet also were bound with zip ties and her head and nose were bloodied, Cummings said, and Denis Duplantier’s hands were zip-tied. His body was discovered on top of his wife’s.

Authorities have said the Duplantiers were robbed, beaten and killed in their Highland Road home, where they lived almost all of their 48 years of marriage.

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A safe inside the Duplantier home was found open, with cash missing, authorities have said. Blood was located in several rooms. Authorities believe Garcia and Alonso entered the couple's home and beat them to get the information needed to open the safe.

Cummings also revealed Wednesday that $160,000 in cash believed stolen from the Duplantier home, as well as valuable coins and jewelry belonging to the couple, was found at Garcia’s home in Florida.

Alonso's white pickup was captured on surveillance video as it followed the couple’s vehicle into the Petro truck stop in Hammond, authorities have said. Alonso’s truck was later discovered at Garcia's home in Florida.

East Baton Rouge District Attorney Hillar Moore III, who lives only two blocks from the Duplantier’s Highland Road home, called the manslaughter pleas and 30-year sentence a “reasonable outcome” in Garcia’s case based on what prosecutors thought they could prove in court. But he was quick to acknowledge that it won’t bring the victims back and said their loved ones can’t and shouldn’t be satisfied with that amount of prison time.

Moore noted that the victims’ family had rejected Garcia’s offer to plead guilty in return for a 25-year sentence. The maximum penalty for manslaughter is 40 years. Garcia will be given credit for the six years he’s already spent behind bars.

One of Garcia’s lawyers, Michael Distefano, told reporters outside the courthouse, “It’s a tough case and I think the outcome was good for everybody involved.”

Alonso’s attorney, Dwight Doskey, was in state District Judge Tiffany Foxworth-Roberts’ courtroom when Garcia pleaded guilty and said afterward he “felt such relief for the Duplantier family that this chapter of the ordeal has partly closed with Frank Garcia’s admission of guilt.”

“It is however still Ernesto Alonso’s contention that his limited participation came only after Frank’s actions surprised him, and then Frank threatened the lives of Ernesto and his family,” Doskey said.

Alonso’s next court date is in December, and Moore said he expects his trial to take place next year.


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