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Wednesday, April 17, 2019

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Man sentenced to life for two Larose murders

Man sentenced to life for two Larose murders

A Thibodaux judge Thursday handed down two concurrent life sentences to a man found guilty of the 2013 killings of a confidential informant and her acquaintance.

Traveyon Blackledge, 21, was convicted Jan. 27 of the second-degree murders 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 on West Fourth Street.

Blackledge's father, 38-year-old Toronzo Thompkins, is accused of ordering him and 38-year-old Jerrard Major Sr. to kill Landry, who was set to testify against Thompkins in his crack cocaine distribution trial. Thompkins is already serving a life sentence, having been convicted of the drug charge despite Landry's death, but he and Major are awaiting trial on the murder charges.

Second-degree murder carries a mandatory sentence of life in prison without the possibility of probation, parole or suspension of sentence.

Assistant District Attorneys Joe Soignet and Jason Chatagnier prosecuted Blackledge.

"Based on what he did, it's the only appropriate sentence," Soignet said. "It's not the usual situation where you try one and there's closure for the victim. As soon as the verdict came through, we turned our attentions to (the other defendants.) The first third is behind us, so now we move on."

During the trial, Blackledge's New Iberia attorney, Lynden Burton, raised the issues of the defendant's mental health, alleged mistreatment by detectives and pointed out a lack of physical evidence linking him to the crime.

Burton did not bring post-trial motions before state District Judge Walter Lanier, who presided over the case, but said there will be an appeal.

"We would have wanted it to come out differently," Burton said. "He always said he was innocent, and we fought it to the end."

An all-white jury decided Blackledge's fate, with 11 of the 12 members voting guilty. Burton said he can't say yet whether the jury's racial makeup will factor into an appeal.

"It's the way it worked out," he said. "We tried our best to get a jury of his peers, and this is what we ended up with. We have to wait until we go through everything."

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