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Wednesday, April 17, 2019

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Judge: Double homicide suspect competent to stand trial

Judge: Double homicide suspect competent to stand trial

A judge has deemed a 2013 double homicide suspect competent to stand trial following reports from two doctors that he has no mental deficiency preventing him from understanding the court proceedings or assisting in his defense.

Traveyon Blackledge, 21, of Thibodaux, is now set for trial Jan. 24.

He is charged with second-degree murder in the shootings of 41-year-old Nikki Landry of Larose and 54-year-old Harry Lefort of Cut Off, whose bodies were found Sept. 22, 2013, in Landry's apartment.

Blackledge's father, Toronzo Thompkins, 37, of Raceland, is accused of ordering his son and Jerrard Major Sr., 37, of Raceland, to kill Landry. She was a confidential informant set to testify in his cocaine distribution trial.

State District Judge Walter Lanier of Thibodaux had granted a request by Blackledge's New Iberia attorney, Lynden Burton, for a mental exam and appointment of a sanity commission. In a hearing Friday, Lanier said the two doctors who examined the defendant believe he was malingering.

It's the same finding of Dr. Rafael Salcedo, a Gretna forensic psychologist who had previously evaluated Blackledge. Salcedo testified in an April 21 hearing that the defendant showed an IQ of 40 and scored 16 of 50 in a visual recognition test.

Salcedo said a blind person would have a 50-50 chance of getting questions right, so Blackledge would have had to purposely choose the wrong image to score less than 25. He also noted the defendant's use of advanced words in his police statements and a jail phone conversation between him and Thompkins that involved code language.

In that same hearing, Dr. Marc Zimmerman, a Baton Rouge forensic psychologist who evaluated Blackledge, testified that the defendant got nine of 10 geometric figures correct when copying them. But when drawing from memory, he got only one correct.

Zimmerman said Blackledge's IQ is 49, indicating an intellectual disability, and all his scores on one test were within a child's range. He read at a first-grade level, and his sentence comprehension was even lower.

Lanier sided with Salcedo and ruled that Blackledge's police statements could be used in his trial. A sanity hearing had been set for June 29 but was delayed because of the appointment of new doctors to examine Blackledge.

Thompkins is serving a life sentence after being convicted of cocaine distribution despite Landry's death. Neither his nor Major's trial has yet been scheduled.

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