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Update on Tori Broussard case

Published: Aug. 19, 2021 at 7:25 PM CDT
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Lake Charles, LA (KPLC) - Thursday, defense attorneys at the center of a high-profile local murder case succeeded in keeping certain evidence from trial.

It’s the case of Tori Broussard - former investigator for the Calcasieu Parish Public Defenders office.

She is the woman who, along with her husband Neil, is charged with first-degree murder in connection with the killings of two teens in Westlake a year ago.

Judge Derrick Kee agreed with defense attorneys that sheriff’s deputies did not respect Tori Broussard’s rights, and so, certain evidence cannot be used against her unless a higher court decides otherwise.

Prosecutors plan to ask the Third Circuit Court of Appeal to review the ruling.

Neil Broussard and his wife Tori are accused of the first-degree murders of 17-year-old Kyla Hidalgo and 18-year-old Kaleb Charlton found shot to death at a house in Westlake on July 15, 2020. Kyla’s mother was also shot, but she survived.

Deputies say Tori helped her husband evade capture and lied about it. Before the murders, Neil Broussard was being sought by deputies in connection with a rape.

Defense attorneys say, and the judge agreed, deputies violated her rights by not making sure she understood her right to an attorney:

“They have an obligation to make sure she fully knows she had a right to contact her attorney, and as Judge Kee said, that was a part of the reason they did it at five in the morning. Who would be able to call and reach their attorney at five o’clock in the morning? But they didn’t even give our client that opportunity” defense attorney Todd Clemons said.

Calcasieu Assistant D.A. Ross Murray says they respect the ruling but disagree, saying she was not a suspect at the time of the interview.

“It was starting out of ‘where’s Neil, where’s Neil?’ When she wasn’t coming forward, they did bring forth some information to her that ‘we know you’ve had contact with him at some point, we’re just trying to find him,’” Murray said.

Judge Derrick Kee threw out a video recording of Tori Broussard and other evidence, including what was found in her home, truck and phone. The judge said officers “used trickery to circumvent her constitutional rights.”

Deputies were in an urgent situation, as two bodies had been discovered and they were trying to find Neil Broussard and save a 14-year-old girl he allegedly kidnapped.

“This was an emergency situation that law enforcement did what they had to do to protect this community from this child-molesting murderer, and they ended up accomplishing their goal in the end, by saving this young lady and bringing this murderer into custody,” Murray said.

Yet, defense attorney Adam Johnson says defendants are entitled to their rights.

“Even under difficult circumstances, people’s rights have to be respected at all costs. In this case, they didn’t do that, and they suffer the consequences,” Johnson said.

Meanwhile, the judge stayed the case against Tori Broussard, so it’s on hold for now - that’s until there is a ruling from the Third Circuit. Prosecutors have 30 days to file paperwork with the appeal court.

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