Prince convicted; facing death penalty
CROWLEY - Daniel Prince, the man convicted of the 2005 double murder of Angella Matte and Jackie Campbell in Branch trailer then setting it ablaze, is currently undergoing the sentencing phase of his trial.
Prince is facing the death penalty.
During the victim impact statements, the emotions of the jury and several people in the courtroom spilled over.
Jurors wept openly as Matte’s two young sons, Bradley and Christopher, read their statements. Prince sat stoically, showing no emotion whatsoever.
“I miss my mother and wish she was here,” said Bradley Matte. “I just want to go home and hug her.”
“I want to tell you that I miss my mother all the time,” said Christopher Matte. “Because of the man that killed my mom, I can’t sleep at night because I’m afraid he might come get me. I’m afraid of fire and I can’t go to bonfires because I think about my mother burning.”
Matte and Cambell were out celebrating Cambell’s 40th birthday on the evening they were killed.
Even veteran sheriff’s officers were becoming emotional and Judge Kristian Earles called for a recess so that the jury could compose themselves.
“I’ve sat through several murder trials and it doesn’t get harder than that,” said a veteran of the Acadia Parish Sheriff’s Office who wished to remain unidentified.
Several of Matte’s sisters also testified, including her sister Cindy Lagrange who gave Prince an angry glare as she approached the jury.
“She used to call me every day and she was always so happy,” said Lagrange. “She called me at 7:40 the night she was killed she called me at 7:40......that was the last time I ever heard from her.”
When it came time for the defense to help spare Prince of the death penalty, they portrayed him as a man who had been bounced from foster home to foster home, having been exposed to drugs and prostitution by his mother. He was eventually removed from her when he was one-year-old.
The defense had an inmate from Angola testify as to what Prince would be facing if he were to be sentenced to life in prison. The inmate, Benjamin Franklyin Dockery Jr., is serving a life sentence for being the triggerman in a murder for higher case and has been in Angola for 24 years.
Dockerty described a life sentence.
“At Angola we call everybody who has a life sentence ‘the walking dead’,” said Dockerty. “Angola is a very dangerous place. A person who is weak is in big trouble. There are people in there who aren’t fit to walk a dog.”
Assistant District Attorney Roger Hamilton then cross examined Dockerty.
“Mr. Dockerty, when you are in Angola, do you eat?”
“Yes,” replied Dockerty.
“Do you have clothing?”
“And you receive medical attention and you pay no bills is that right?”
“Yes,” Dockerty replied.
“No further questions, your honor,” said Hamilton.
Ellen Trahan, a licensed social worker then testified and described Prince as a person who had been neglected since birth and was unstable.
A poster board was placed on a stable listing all the places Prince had lived during his years in foster care, some of which were abusive.
She said he lacked social skills and was separated from his sister which led to him being unable to have any family in his life. She also said she personally believed he had been sexually assaulted.
“His life was devastating,” she said.
Hamilton then asked her if she had any proof that Prince had been sexually assaulted.
“No,” she responded.
“No further questions, your honor.”
Ted Friedberg, a psychologist from Lafayette, took the stand and said that he had examined as many as 150 murder cases and had only agreed to testify in 20 of them because “of mitigating factors that could cause them to commit the crime.”
“When I looked at his record I saw that he was a person who had been rejected since birth,” he said. “This man never stood a chance.”
When Hamilton questioned him he asked “Have you ever spoken to me prior to today?”
Friedberg replied that he had not.
“Who is paying you to be here today?”
Friedberg replied that it was the public defenders’ office.
“When you examined him you said he had normal intelligence?”
“Yes,” replied Friedberg.
Hamilton had no further questions.
There was no sentence set as of press time. The Post-Signal will post on its website, acadiaparishtoday.com, when it is handed out.