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Wednesday, April 17, 2019

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UPDATED: Witness killed on trials eve

UPDATED: Witness killed on trials eve

Toronzo Thompkins (left) is escorted Monday to the Thibodaux Courthouse. Photo by Chris Heller/Comet Staff

The woman who was found gunned down in her Larose apartment early Sunday was a confidential police informant scheduled to testify this week in an accused drug dealer's trial, Lafourche District Attorney Cam Morvant said.

The bodies of 41-year-old Nikki Landry and 54-year-old Harry Lefort, of Cut Off, were found Sunday morning by a member of Landry's family, police said. Each had been shot multiple times.

Nine-millimeter bullet casings were found at the scene, according to Lafourche sheriff's spokesman Brennan Matherne.

Landry was supposed to testify against Toronzo Thompkins, 34, 343 Brocato Lane, Raceland, Morvant said. He is accused of selling cocaine.

Police wouldn't say whether the pending testimony was the motive for the shooting or provide any other details, citing the ongoing nature of the investigation. No suspect has been named.

Landry bought a quarter-ounce of crack cocaine from Thompkins on March 24, 2011, while wearing a hidden camera at the request of the Lafourche Parish Drug Task Force, Morvant said.

At a hearing held Monday morning, District Judge F. Hugh Larose ruled that Thompkins' trial will go forward as scheduled and the tape will be admitted into evidence.

Larose also ruled that prosecutors can't reveal the circumstances surrounding Landry's death because it could prejudice the jury.

The tape shows Thompkins and Landry engaging in a drug deal, but the actual exchange was not captured on video.

“You don't see the defendant putting the dope in the (confidential informant's) hand,” said Morvant, but the two do argue over the weight of the crack being less than agreed, and Thompkins agrees to accept less money.

Defense Attorney Melody A. Bridgewater, in a failed bid to keep the tape from being shown at trial, argued that Landry's death makes her unavailable for cross-examination.

Landry bought drugs from multiple drug dealers in exchange for immunity from prosecution on her own criminal charges, Morvant said in court.

Morvant confirmed that Landry's work led to multiple convictions. She was also scheduled to testify in other upcoming trials.

“We're going to have to look at the other cases,” he said.

Editor’s Note: Toronzo “Tonto” Thompkins was convicted Thursday and could face life in prison because of his past criminal record, Morvant said.

Thompkins, who will be sentenced Oct. 16, faces up to 30 years in prison with hard labor and a fine of up to $50,000 on the conviction.

But Morvant said he plans to file a habitual offender bill after Thompkins is sentenced. A habitual offender bill can enhance a sentence for a person convicted of previous felonies.

Morvant said that means Thompkins could face life behind bars.

The Lafourche Parish Sheriff's Office is investigating Landry and Lefort's murders. Deputies wouldn't say whether Landry's testimony was the motive for her killing, and no suspect has been named. There is no indication Lefort was an informant for the Drug Task Force.

Staff Writer Jean-Paul Arguello can be reached at 448-7617 or at