LAFAYETTE — Brandon Scott Lavergne has asked a judge to void his guilty pleas in August to two counts of first-degree murder in the deaths of Mickey Shunick and Lisa Pate.
Lavergne, 34, entered the pleas less than two months after his arrest in a high-profile investigation that began May 19, when Shunick, a 21-year-old University of Louisiana at Lafayette student, disappeared while riding her bicycle home from downtown Lafayette.
The Shunick case revived an older investigation into the 1999 death of Lisa Pate, and Lavergne, who had long been a suspect in the older killing, also pleaded guilty in that case.
Convicted killer Brandon Scott Lavergne maintained throughout his talks with police — including his taped confession — that he accidentally struck university coed Mickey Shunick’s bicycle and never intended to kill her, according to recordings obtained by The Daily Advertiser.
Now he wants the court to throw out his guilty pleas in the killings of Shunick last year and the earlier slaying of Lisa Pate, a Lafayette Parish woman whose body was found near Church Point in 1999.
“I never wanted any of this to happen,” he said.
But, in a statement supporting the plea agreement, prosecutors wrote that Lavergne purposely followed Shunick, intentionally hit her bicycle, kidnapped Shunick and intended to kill her.
That statement, signed by Lavergne and his attorneys, was presented as part of his guilty plea Aug. 17.
Lavergne never said in court that day what had happened with Shunick on May 19, and only the state’s version of what happened was presented by then-prosecutor Keith Stutes.
In his handwritten application for post-conviction relief, Lavergne asserted that “Shunick was not kidnapped” and that no evidence exists to support the kidnapping claim that led to the first-degree murder charge.
Lavergne further stated that he “acted in self-defense believing his life to be in danger.”
He has said that Shunick doused him in the face with pepper-spray, then grabbed his knife and stabbed him several times.
Lavergne said they struggled for the knife and, when he got it from Shunick, he stabbed her several times.
Believing Shunick to be dead, he drove to a field in Acadia Parish to dump the body.
That’s when Shunick reportedly jumped up with Lavergne’s knife and stabbed him again. Lavergne admitted he then shot Shunick in the head and killed her.
Lavergne also is asserting in his court petition that law enforcement officials from several jurisdictions violated a Freedom of Information Act exemption by “willfully leaking evidence, information and unsupported information about unrelated charges” that proved inaccurate.
The leaks, he said, denied him the right to a fair trial and pressured him to take a plea deal because he did not think he could get a fair trial.