Victims’ family relieved after jury convicts man of murder for setting deadly fire, rejecting insanity defense

Published: May. 31, 2023 at 7:23 PM CDT
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Lake Charles, LA (KPLC) - Guilty as charged – Casey Hatch now stands convicted of two counts of second-degree murder for the deaths of a mother and daughter after he set fire to his house.

Hatch not only set fire to his trailer on Dobbertine Road in Lake Charles, where Marie Bourque and two of her children were staying, but when a deputy asked him if anyone was inside, he said no.

Bourque and her daughter, 12-year-old Ski Smith, died, while her son survived.

Hatch pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity. His mother and stepfather testified in his defense, speaking about his mental health struggles.

Two expert witnesses testified that Hatch knew right from wrong at the time of the fire.

Family members of the victims are pleased Hatch is convicted and never believed he was insane.

“He was not insane. He knew what he was doing. He was in love with my daughter,” said Marie Johnson, Borque’s mother and Ski Smith’s grandmother.

Douglas Bourque is the father and grandfather of the victims. He too believed Hatch wanted his daughter.

“There’s a lot of anger in me, but I got to remember, God says to forgive. It’s hard to and I know he understands that,” he said.

“We’ll never get them back, but justice was served,” said Crystal Richard, the victims’ sister and aunt.

The evidence showed Hatch did have mental illnesses, including schizophrenia, but Assistant D.A. Charles Robinson argued that he still knew right from wrong.

“When the doctors performed their assessments, they were able to look at his actions at the time of the offense and they saw that he wasn’t responding to a delusion and that he did know the difference between right and wrong. and he lied about whether or not people were in the house not because of a delusion but because he knew it was wrong and that first responders would have saved them, but for his lie.”

Robinson said the evidence suggests it was going to be a murder-suicide, but Hatch backed out. It appears he held the door closed, keeping Marie and the children trapped.

“Based on the circumstantial evidence that came out at trial, it looks like Mr. Hatch would have been the only reason why she wouldn’t have been able to open that door. And it looks as if Mr. Hatch was going to make sure that they passed away or were unconscious,” Robinson said.

The defense attorney, public defender King Alexander, is convinced Hatch was insane when the fire was started.

“Casey Hatch is not evil. And he did not mean to hurt those people. He had no ill will for them at all. This is one of the most egregious cases of ‘No good deed goes unpunished,’ because he took them off the streets and he meant them nothing but good will,” Alexander said.

He said the problem is Louisiana’s archaic law.

“To define it as not knowing the difference between right and wrong excludes people who maybe, immediately afterward, know they did something wrong but at the time they really had no choice. It was under a compulsion type of situation, or they have no memory of it, and they don’t remember ever consciously deciding to do it,” Alexander said.

Alexander also said there was never any evidence that Hatch and Marie Bourque were anything beyond friends.

King expects the Louisiana Appellate Project to pursue an appeal for Hatch.

Hatch is to be sentenced on July 21. He faces a mandatory life sentence for each count of second-degree murder.