Kevin Dukes May 2019.jpg

Kevin Dukes

While Livingston Parish detectives were gathering evidence in an August 2018 homicide, the suspect they've since identified was accused in another homicide that occurred months later in Baton Rouge.

The bodies of the two victims, both shot, were found dumped in unusual locations.

Livingston authorities announced Tuesday the arrest of Kevin Dukes, 43. The most recent accusations implicate Dukes in the August 2018 shooting death of Fermin Pecina, 38, who was found dead off Hood Road in Livingston Parish. 

Four months after Pecina's killing, Dukes was arrested and accused of shooting another man whose body was wrapped in a tarp and dumped in the middle of South Flannery Road, a quiet residential neighborhood in Baton Rouge. Dukes was released on $300,000 bail in the days following that arrest and appears to have remained free until this week, court records show. 

He's now being held without bond in Livingston Parish jail.

Livingston authorities released almost no details about their investigation Tuesday, saying only that detectives found enough evidence to make the arrest. They also made no mention of Dukes' criminal record. 

"We never give up. We keep pushing. We follow the evidence," Livingston Parish Sheriff Jason Ard said in a news release. "And that is what led to this new development. A motive is still unclear. But these veteran detectives are continuing to look at and examine all the facts of this case." 

Pecina had been staying in the Baton Rouge area for a few weeks when he was found dead from a gunshot wound last August. He was originally from Texas, and his family had reported him missing in the days leading up to his death, authorities said. Investigators estimated Pecina had been dead at least eight hours before he was found.

In the December case that unfolded in Baton Rouge, Dukes is accused of killing Julius Thomas Sr., 55, and then dumping his body. Authorities said Thomas was shot at Dukes' paint and body shop, King of Karz LA on Old Hammond Highway. The victim's family told investigators the two men had an ongoing feud over a large amount of money that Thomas owed Dukes.

Deputies executed search warrants the following day and found an abundance of evidence: an "excessive amount of blood" on Dukes' car and outside his business, along with a fired cartridge case and a bullet projectile. Detectives also discovered a box of ammunition inside his house that matched the cartridge case recovered from the scene.

Dukes turned himself in and was arrested later that day.

Authorities note in court documents that his criminal history includes previous felony convictions for first-degree robbery, false imprisonment with a dangerous weapon, simple robbery, aggravated battery and felon in possession of a firearm. 

He now faces two additional counts: second-degree murder, one in East Baton Rouge and one in Livingston.

Court records show that Dukes was indicted last month in the East Baton Rouge case. He pleaded not guilty on Tuesday, and Livingston authorities took him into custody after his court appearance in Baton Rouge, said Livingston Parish Sheriff's spokeswoman Lori Steele. 

Follow Lea Skene on Twitter, @lea_skene.