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Wednesday, July 17, 2019

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Third suspect charged in killing of confidential informant pleads guilty

Third suspect charged in killing of confidential informant pleads guilty

A Houma man scheduled for trial next week for his involvement in the killing of a confidential narcotics informant in 2013 pled guilty to conspiracy to commit murder Monday afternoon.

Jerrard Major, Sr., 39, was indicted for the second degree murders of Nikki Landry and Harry Lefort, who were found shot to death on the morning of September 22, 2013.

Also indicted with Major were Toronzo Thompkins and his son, Traveyon Blackledge, both of whom were convicted for the murders last year and are now serving life sentences.

Landry was scheduled to testify against Thompkins in a trial for distribution of cocaine, which began the day after the murders. Despite her death, Thompkins was convicted on the narcotics charge.

Lefort had no involvement in the case against Thompkins, and was simply at the scene when the hit on Landry was carried out.

“This plea brings a long and challenging series of prosecutions to a close,” said District Attorney Kristine Russell. “This plea wouldn’t have happened without the support of the victim’s family. Hopefully now that justice has been done they can move forward with a sense of closure.”

Pursuant to the plea agreement, Major was sentenced to twenty-five years in prison by the Hon. Walter I. Lanier, III, who had also presided over the Blackledge and Thompkins trials.

“The conspiracy charge fits the facts of the case against Major,” said Assistant District Attorney Jason Chatagnier, who prosecuted the case along with ADA Joe Soignet. “This was by far the most difficult prosecution of the three who were charged. But the Lafourche Parish Sheriff’s Office did an excellent job of uncovering this conspiracy during their investigation, and as a result each of the three men they charged is now in prison.”

While Thompkins was incarcerated in the Lafourche Parish Detention Center awaiting trial at the time of the killings, detectives were soon able to identify recordings of phone calls he made to acquaintances, including Major, discussing his wish to take care of Landry using code language that the perpetrators understood.

While Major admitted to knowing what the dialogue meant, he denied killing either Landry or Lefort, and acknowledged only that he went to the scene of the killings with Blackledge.

Following his convictions for the killings, Blackledge remained unwilling to testify against either Thompkins or Major, according to Soignet.

“Without Blackledge’s testimony, we couldn’t put a gun in Major’s hand at the time of the killings,” said Soignet. “But the investigation certainly concluded that Major was part of the conspiracy to kill Landry, so this is an appropriate resolution to the case.”

Major had faced a mandatory life sentence if convicted of second-degree murder.