The 16th Judicial District Attorney’s Office plans to seek the death penalty against the daughter and granddaughter of an 83-year-old Breaux Bridge woman found strangled in November at Lake Martin.
A grand jury indicted Heller Marie Dupuis, and her daughter, Toni Marie Dupuis, on Friday evening on charges of first-degree murder, Assistant District Attorney Chester Cedars said Monday.
The state declared in open court its intent to seek the death penalty against both women, Cedars said.
That decision was based on Jessie Messex’s age, her physical condition, the manner of homicide and the activities of the defendants both before and after the killing, Cedars said.
“We believe the homicide was committed in a very heinous, atrocious and cruel manner. One fact that is not lost upon us is the age of the victim,” Cedars said.
Cedars declined to speculate on a motive, saying he believes that is something best left for the trial.
“I am convinced that the motive will become evident to the jury when we try the case,” Cedars said.
A St. Martin Parish deputy found Messex with a cord wrapped around her neck inside her vehicle at Lake Martin shortly after midnight Nov. 17.
Heller Dupuis’ older sibling, Estelle Malagarie, has said both women moved in with Messex after Messex suffered a stroke several months before her death.
Malagarie has said her mother planned to change her will.
Cedars called it a “very sad case and a case that warrants as diligent a prosecution as possible so that justice can be done.”
(source: The Advocate)