DA Trent Brignac has busy week, reports recent cases

By: CARISSA HEBERT

Managing Editor

Evangeline Parish District Attorney Trent Brignac’s staff continues its daily duties of making sure the judicial process moves toward a conclusion in the cases before the court.

The case, State vs. Michael Bushnell, began after Bushnell allegedly fatally shot his son, Michael Bushnell Jr., 19, Monday, April 20, at his home, 1032 Lanse Prien Noir Road, located west of Mamou. Bushnell’s initial bond was set at $500,000 but the circumstances in the case, along with several domestic violence reports between Bushnell and his wife and children, were considered in this case after family members became concerned for the safety of Bushnell’s wife and other children.

On Friday, April 24, Brignac said a motion was filed in the case to have the bond revoked. Bushnell, represented by Alex “Sonny” Chapman appeared before the court Tuesday, April 28, at 9 a.m. since a hearing had to be held within five days of the motion according to the law.

The judge granted the motion, and Bushnell is now being held without bond pending his trial. His arraignment is scheduled for June 11.

Bushnell faces second-degree murder charges, so his case must be brought before a grand jury. Brignac expects the grand jury to convene Monday, June 1.

On Monday, April 27, the case of Hilton Alfred was scheduled for trial. An amended bill had been filed for one count of molestation of a juvenile and one count of aggravated incest in this case. Brignac said at the last minute it was discovered the assistant district attorney Shelley Deville had been assigned by the court to represent Alfred when she was working as an indigent defender. Deville had never seen Alfred since she left the indigent defender’s position shortly before her assignment to the case. Brignac said his office wanted to make sure to avoid any discrepancy in this case that could occur as the judicial process went forward so the case was reassigned to another prosecutor and postponed.

Alfred was charged January 29, 2008 in this case for an incident that allegedly occurred August 27, 2007 involving suspected inappropriate behavior with a juvenile.

Since the Alfred case was postponed, Brignac said they had another case ready to come before the courts, the State vs. John D. Collins. Marcus Fontenot, assistant district attorney, handled the case which involved charges of distribution of Schedule II, crack cocaine. The district attorney’s office received a lab report just before the case went to court, which said the controlled dangerous substance sold to an undercover officer was not crack cocaine.

Since it was not crack cocaine, Collins faced distribution of imitation of a counterfeit controlled dangerous substance. (According to state statute, it is against the law to sell a counterfeit narcotic.) Brignac said this does carry a lesser sentence, which is a maximum of not more than five years with or without hard labor. Collins pled guilty before the trial began with no plea promises. He will be sentenced July 9, 2009.

Prior to the Monday date set for trials, Brignac said another case did come to an end when Larry Reed pled guilty to two counts of simple burglary, two counts of theft over $500 and one count of aggravated arson for a case that occurred last year after a hurricane came through the area. Reed allegedly burglarized a home after the hurricane while the family was evacuated and then attempted to destroy it by fire. He will be sentenced June 3. He is facing a maximum sentence of 12 years with or without hard labor on both counts of burglary; up to 10 years on each count of theft and up to 10 years on the aggravated arson charge.

And a few weeks ago, The Gazette reported Turkey Creek had received an audit from the state auditor’s office on March 18. After discussing discrepancies in that audit involving alleged missing funds, a motion was made at the recent Turkey Creek village meeting by Curtis Stewart and seconded by Jesse Johnson to ask the district attorney’s office to have a full investigation conducted.

Brignac said this case involves lots of financial matters, etc., so he contacted Louisiana State Police and requested someone with expertise in this matter to conduct an investigation into the alleged missing funds. He is scheduled to meet with the state trooper assigned to the case Tuesday, May 5. He said the information will be turned over to the trooper for investigation and his office will receive a report once the investigation is completed.

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