The second man convicted in the strangling, shooting and burning death of a young mother in New Orleans East was sentenced to life in prison on Thursday after the victim's mother gave an emotional statement in court.
“My heart tells me your family did not raise you to be this evil person,” Jolene Dufrene told Troy Varnado. “But I don’t have one ounce of compassion for you.”
A jury in September convicted Varnado, 30, of second-degree murder, second-degree kidnapping and obstruction of justice in the death of Lindsay Nichols.
His co-defendant Thayon Sansom had earlier pleaded guilty to manslaughter and received a 40-year sentence under an agreement with prosecutors.
Investigators said that a series of incriminating letters sent from jail by Sansom, also known as Samson, proved that the two men acted in concert. Cellphone location data also showed that Varnado was in the area of Downman Road and Chef Menteur Highway just before Nichols made a 911 call for help from there.
Prosecutors said Varnado became enraged after Nichols refused to have sex with him when she went to Sansom's apartment after a night out at clubs.
The mandatory punishment for second-degree murder in Louisiana is life without parole, so there was no suspense as to how Criminal District Court Judge Robin Pittman would sentence Varnado.
However, a gallery full of Nichols’ loved ones listened intently as Dufrene put on glasses and read a statement to her daughter’s killer.
Nichols, 31, worked as a timekeeper at Texas construction sites before her death. She was the mother of a young son.
Jurors this week convicted a second man in the gruesome beating, shooting and burning death in New Orleans East of a young mother from Des Allemands.
Dufrene said the 911 call that her daughter made in the moments before her death — in which she pleaded with an operator for help — would haunt her for the rest of her life.
“I hope that it will haunt you too, but I doubt it will,” Dufrene said.
She added that she wished the law would allow Varnado to face the same violence her daughter did: being shot and strangled, then dumped in the trunk of a car on Michoud Boulevard that was set on fire on June 21, 2015.
Instead, Dufrene said, she hoped Varnado will live a “miserable” life in prison.
Afterward, she added, “I hope you burn in hell.”
Varnado gave a brief statement before the judge announced the sentence, telling Nichols’ family that he knew how they felt because the mother of his children recently died.
“This isn’t justice for Lindsay,” he continued, because the real killers are still at large.
After Varnado spoke, Assistant District Attorney Tiffany Tucker took the rare step of invoking his status as a habitual offender to further increase the sentence he faces — a symbolic step, since he has already received a life term.
Defense attorneys John Fuller and Marcus DeLarge represented Varnado.
Ever since her daughter’s body was found in the trunk of a burning car in New Orleans East three years ago, Jolene Dufrene has pushed for justice.