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Louisiana man indicted for murder of fiancee's daughter

Baton Rouge defendants charged with serious crimes are under the microscope at all times. An arrest, media coverage, police interviews, formal charges, court appearances and incarceration are bewildering, stressful experiences. Criminal words and actions can be used to his or her legal advantage or disadvantage.

A 43-year-old Louisiana man was indicted recently on a first-degree murder charge for the death of his fiancee’s daughter. St. James Parish authorities jailed the man for obstructing justice during in an investigation to find the 12-year-old girl, missing since the first of the month. The child’s decomposed body was discovered the Sunday after her disappearance in a cane field, along a road reportedly used by the defendant to go to his job.

The defendant initially was a “person of interest” but after the body was found, the man’s status was elevated to “suspect.” The defendant shared a St. James home with the child, three other children and the man’s fiancee for several years. The defendant was the father of the two youngest children, with no biological connection to his fiancee’s 11- and 12-year-old daughters.

Authorities said the murder victim’s slipper was found in the defendant’s trunk during the search for the girl. The man was charged with obstruction and jailed when police claimed the defendant wouldn’t talk about the slipper and gave contradictory statements. The man was indicted and re-arrested on the murder charge even before investigators finished gathering evidence where the child’s body was found.

Investigators believe the girl died around the same time she turned up missing. Her cause of death remains under investigation. The defendant could face more charges, including an additional felony that would enhance the murder sentence if the man is convicted.

When a defendant’s participation in a murder cannot be disputed, criminal defense attorneys work to downgrade the charge. Aggravating factors may be challenged to reduce a defendant’s punishment.

Source: Source: NOLA.com, "Mother's fiancé indicted in murder of 12-year-old girl in St. James Parish," Emily Lane, July 9, 2014

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