Plauche Pleads No Contest To Manslaughter Charges
BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) _ A man pleaded no contest Thursday to a reduced charge of manslaughter in the televised shooting death of his 12-year-old son’s alleged kidnapper.
Leon Gary Plauche of Baton Rouge accepted a plea agreement offered by prosecutors. He had been charged with second-degree murder in the death of Jeffrey Paul Doucet.
That charge was dropped in exchange for the plea, which has the same penalty as a guilty plea, but is not an admission of guilt.
Plauche remains free on a $100,000 property bond. District Judge Frank Saia set an Aug. 27 sentencing.
Plauche, 39, showed little emotion during the 15-minute hearing. His voice broke only once during the proceedings when he answered ″Yes, your honor,″ after being asked if he understood the charge.
Under state law, manslaughter is an act that would be normally be first- or second-degree murder but was committed in the heat of sudden passion.
Plauche’s attorney, Anthony Marabella, said his client chose the best alternative.
″I stated to the court and I believe now sincerely that there are some very good defenses that Gary could have raised at the trial,″ the defense attorney said. ″Mainly the insanity defense.″
″The things we considered were not so much the strength of the case, but personal reasons for not wanting to tell the whole story in open court,″ Marabella said. ″Personal to the family. Personal to everyone involved.″
But Roland Doucet, the dead man’s brother, said outside the courtroom that justice had not been done.
″We’d have preferred that he pleaded guilty to second-degree murder. I’ve said from day one that he was guilty of first-degree murder and deserved the chair,″ he said. ″I’d pull the switch.″
The charge stems from the March 16, 1984, slaying of Doucet in Metro Airport, while Doucent was being returned from California to face charges that he had kidnapped Plauche’s son.
He had been arrested by FBI agents in Anaheim, Calif., who burst into Doucet’s hotel room and found him with Plauche’s son. Plauche said his son had been sexually molested by Doucet.
A television news team was at the airport for Doucet’s return and the camera showed Doucet and the deputies walking down the airport corridor. It also captured a man wearing a baseball cap and glasses as he talked on a pay telephone. The man was Plauche.
As the trio passed behind Plauche, he turned and fired a single shot into Doucet’s right ear.
Second-degree murder, the charge on which Plauche was indicted last December, carries a mandatory life sentence without benefit of probation, parole or suspension of sentence.
Manslaughter carries a maximum sentence of 21 years at hard labor with as much as an additional seven years, without benefit of probation, parole or suspension, for the use of a handgun.
Plauche originally pleaded innocent and innocent by reason of insanity.