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Sunday, November 11, 2018



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Man appeals Larose murder convictions

Man appeals Larose murder convictions

A man found guilty of the 2013 killings of a Larose confidential informant and her acquaintance is appealing his convictions.

Traveyon Blackledge, 22, of Thibodaux, was convicted Jan. 27 of second-degree murder in the shootings of 41-year-old Nikki Landry, of Larose, and 54-year-old Harry Lefort, of Cut Off. Their bodies were found Sept. 22, 2013, in Landry’s apartment.

Blackledge received a mandatory life sentence.

New Orleans attorney Roger Jordan Jr., who is representing Blackledge for his appeal, could not be reached for comment Wednesday.

Lafourche Assistant District Attorney Joe Soignet, who handles appeals for the District Attorney’s Office, said Blackledge and his attorney have three claims.

One is that certain jail recordings used as evidence were hearsay.

New Iberia attorney Lynden Burton, who previously represented Blackledge, objected to the introduction of the recordings at trial. However, state District Judge Walter Lanier ruled that they could be played.

“Our position on the recordings is that it’s not hearsay,” Soignet said. “They were comments made during and in furtherance of the conspiracy.”

Another claim is that Lanier should have excluded Blackledge’s police statements from evidence. The judge had sided with Gretna forensic psychologist Rafael Salcedo, who said Blackledge purposely gave wrong answers in an evaluation to make himself appear mentally handicapped.

Soignet said the third reason for the appeal is that, after Blackledge refused to testify during his trial, Lanier didn’t tell the jury not to hold that against him.

“The judge is only required to charge the jury on that issue when the defense attorney makes the request,” Soignet said. Burton did not.

Authorities said Blackledge’s father, Toronzo Thompkins, 39, of Raceland, ordered him and Jerrard Major Sr., 39, of Raceland, to kill Landry. She was set to testify against Thompkins in his cocaine distribution trial.

A jury on May 26 convicted Thompkins of Landry’s murder and found him guilty of negligent homicide in Lefort’s death.

Thompkins is already serving a life sentence after being convicted of cocaine distribution despite Landry’s death. He now faces another life sentence.

Major is awaiting trial.

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