LAFAYETTE, LA (WAFB) - Court documents show Brandon Scott Lavergne pleaded guilty to murdering both Lisa Pate and Mickey Shunick and in exchange will serve life in prison. Details from Lavergne about Shunick and Pate are revealed in his court statement.
Lavergne remained silent as reporters yelled out questions to him when he was walked into the Lafayette Parish District Courthouse Friday morning.
He arrived around 9 a.m. There was word a surprise witness for the prosecution was expected to testify at the evidentiary hearing in Lafayette. During the hearing, Lavergne changed his plea as part of an agreement with prosecutors.
Lavergne was indicted on two counts of first-degree murder in the deaths of Mickey Shunick and Lisa Pate. He initially pleaded not guilty to all charges and prosecutors said they were going to seek the death penalty.
Lavergne's truck was found burned in a neighboring Texas county shortly after Shunick disappeared in Lafayette on May 19. Her body was found on Aug. 7 in Evangeline Parish.
Lisa Pate went missing in Lafayette in June 1999. According to the indictment, it is believed she was killed on or around July 3, 1999. Her remains were found in Church Point, LA in late September of that year.
A former inmate who served prison time with Lavergne recently spoke publicly about the accused killer. He said investigators questioned Lavergne about multiple murders when he was locked up seven years ago in Dequincy, LA.
"It was somebody very serious," said the man, who wished to remain anonymous. "It was a police agency and they come and questioned him for several hours about the murder of two or three women in the same Lafayette area. He come back several hours later and spoke to me and he was scared to death."
"[I] said, 'Brandon, did you do this?' A heads up question - basically, did you do it? And, instead of saying yes or no, he come back and said, 'I'm not going to tell you that or I can't tell you that,'" the former inmate added.
Within a day of the questioning, records show Lavergne was transferred to another prison in Avoyelles Parish. He would spend several years there before being released early on parole.
Court documents show Mickey Shunick put up a fight against Lavergne. According to Lavergne's court statement, Mickey was riding her bike the night she went missing when he struck her bike with his white pickup truck. She was thrown from the bike.
Lavergne insisted Mickey get into his truck and he put her bike in the bed of the pickup. She got into the truck and grabbed her cell phone to call for help, and Lavergne pulled a knife out. She sprayed mace into Lavergne's face. As he was trying to get the mace away from Mickey, she grabbed the knife and stabbed Lavergne several times in what would later be called as life threatening wounds.
Lavergne fought and got the knife back. She was then stabbed multiple times and he believed he had killed her.
According to Lavergne's statement, about 40 minutes later, he drove to a sugar cane field in North Acadia Parish intending to dump Mickey's body. Suddenly, Mickey jumped up and grabbed Lavergne's knife and lunged at him, stabbing him in the chest.
Lavergne pulled out a gun he was carrying and shot Mickey. She died instantly.
In his court statement, Lavergne said he drove to his home with Mickey still in the passenger seat of his truck. After he tended to his wounds, he got rid of his clothes and other evidence. He drove Mickey's body to an area of an old cemetery in Evangeline Parish intending to bury her body. He was unable to dig because of his injuries, so he left the body in a nearby tree line, covering her body with branches and debris.
The next day, he went to an area off the Whiskey Bay area and threw Mickey's bike into the water. He continued to his friend's home in or around New Orleans. Once there, he got rid of the handgun and threw the knife in a dumpster.
According to a police report out of Jefferson Parish, Lavergne was treated for stab wounds at a hospital around 10 p.m. on May 19. The report stated Lavergne couldn't remember where he was attacked and he got vaguer as he was questioned.
Deputies said Lavergne told them someone at a gas station attacked him with a knife or sharp weapon when he stopped to ask for directions, but was unable to remember where the alleged attack occurred. They said he couldn't give street names, buildings or any details about the area where he claimed he was attacked.
Investigators said Lavergne eventually stopped cooperating and that's where the investigation into the alleged attack stopped. Lavergne was treated at the hospital and released.
Lavergne told police he returned from New Orleans on May 20. That day, he went back to where he left Mickey's body and buried her. He went home and burned other items of evidence, including Mickey's book bag. He got rid of her iPod and other evidence.
After authorities released surveillance images captured of Lavergne's pickup where Mickey was last seen in Lafayette, he left Louisiana and destroyed his pickup by setting it on fire. He fraudulently claimed it to have been stolen and made an insurance claim on it. To further cover up his involvement, he purchased an almost identical pickup to lessen local suspicion.
Authorities from St. Landry and Lafayette parishes followed up on a tip on July 12 about possible grave sites two miles from Lavergne's home in the Lawtell area, which is located along US 190 just west of Opelousas, but all three sites were ruled out as graves.
Lavergne, 33, is a convicted sex offender. The Louisiana State Police arrested him during a traffic stop on July 5 in Lafayette. He was taken into custody because troopers said he failed to register as a sex offender from a case dating back to 2000. In that case, he was charged with aggravated sexual battery.
Lafayette Police Chief Jim Craft said after being arrested by state police Lavergne was brought to the Lafayette Police Department and, during initial questioning, Lavergne requested an attorney and refused to answer any further questions.
Lavergne is an offshore worker. Police said he had been working offshore for the past two weeks just prior to his arrest. Investigators spent several hours searching Lavergne's home on July 5.