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Wednesday, April 17, 2019

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Judge denies mistrial in triple-murder case

Judge denies mistrial in triple-murder case

About 4:30 p.m. Nov. 4, 2012, Lafourche sheriff's detectives Warren Callais and Ben Dempster brought Houma native David Brown in for questioning about the deaths of a Lockport woman and her two daughters.

The bodies of 29-year-old Jacquelin, 7-year-old Gabriela and 1-year-old Izabela were found early that morning in their Elliott Drive apartment. All had been stabbed multiple times.

After a night of drinking, Brown, Bollinger coworker Adam Billiot and Carlos Nieves Jr. – Jacquelin's husband and the girls' father – had returned to the Longueville Apartments, where Billiot and the Nieves family lived. The residents had barbecued and watched the LSU game earlier that evening.

Brown said he eventually left the apartments and then tried to go back to Billiot's, where he planned to spend the night, but the door was locked. So, he climbed a fence, walked into a field, came across a shed and slept there.

He showed the detectives bug bites on his arm from that night. They asked him to roll up his other sleeve, but he immediately pulled the sleeve back down when they noticed a bandage.

"So, guys, do I need an attorney now?" he asked.


Dempster replied, "You tell us, David. Do you think you need an attorney?"

But none of that was recorded. Callais testified in court today that the detectives conducted a pre-interview with Brown but didn't tape it because they wanted to build rapport and tell which direction a recorded interview would go.

They then recorded a statement, which has not yet been played in Brown's trial, underway at the Lafourche Parish Courthouse Annex in Thibodaux. State District Judge John LeBlanc is presiding.

Brown's attorneys asked for a mistrial because of differences between Callais' testimony and the recorded statement. For instance, lead defense attorney Kerry Cuccia argued, the testimony was more detailed and precise.

Cuccia said he doubts the pre-interview went as Callais said but admitted he can't prove that. He said the jury may wonder why the statements differ or why Brown changed his statement.

"It is unreasonable to expect us now, on the fly, ... to adjust what we're going to do," he said.

LeBlanc denied the request.


David Plaisance, a nurse at Thibodaux Regional Medical Center at the time, treated Brown for a laceration to the arm. Brown said he'd cut it on a piece of tin.

Dr. Susan Garcia, a forensic pathologist for the Jefferson Parish Coroner's Office, conducted the victims' autopsies. She determined Jacquelin and Izabela died from stab wounds, while Gabriela died of smoke inhalation.

All had marks Garcia said were characteristic of defensive wounds, though she couldn't say for certain that's what they were.

Loved ones cried quietly as Lafourche Parish District Attorney Cam Morvant II displayed photos of the victims' bodies. Some had to leave the courtroom.

Billiot told detectives Carlos Nieves had told his wife to "get her stuff" and leave, and another neighbor, Costin Constantin, testified Monday that the couple would argue about things like money and work. However, Callais said under oath today that detectives found no evidence linking Carlos to the murders.

Phillip Hosea, assistant chief for the Lockport Police Department, testified Monday that when he arrived on scene, Carlos Nieves was "highly upset" and tried several times to get back into the apartment. When Izabela was carried out, Hosea had to grab onto Carlos and they ended up on the ground.

"My baby, my baby," Carlos screamed.

-- Staff Writer Bridget Mire can be reached at 448-7639 or Follow her on Twitter @bridget_mire.