Priest-slaying suspect can’t be sentenced if convicted, judge rules

| March 12, 2010

THIBODAUX — A Houma man charged with the August 1992 slaying of a Thibodaux priest is not eligible by law to receive prison time if convicted of the crime, a district judge ruled this afternoon.

District Judge John LeBlanc ruled Derrick Odomes, who allegedly killed the Rev. Hunter Horgan III when he was 14, cannot be sentenced, if convicted of first-degree murder, because state law in 1992 forbid juveniles convicted of a crime from serving a sentence past their 21st birthday.

The judge's decision does not mean Odomes would necessarily walk free the day a jury renders a verdict in his murder trial. He faces an undetermined amount of time, if convicted, for felony theft, issuing worthless checks and obscenity.

Authorities arrested Odomes for Horgan's death Sept. 17, 2007, more than 15 years after he allegedly stabbed the priest to death inside St. John Episcopal Church's rectory on Jackson Street in Thibodaux. At the time of his arrest, Odomes was 29.

Odomes, now 31, is scheduled to stand trial for first-degree murder on Aug. 23. That date could be delayed, depending on whether the Lafourche District Attorney's Office appeals the judge's decision.

Lafourche District Attorney Cam Morvant II said his office would likely appeal the judge's decision, but added he would speak with Assistant District Attorney Stephen Caillouet before a final decision was made. Caillouet and Morvant are prosecuting the case.

Attorneys for the prosecution and defense said that they expect a trial to happen, regardless of whether Odomes can be sentenced.

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Category: Church Security

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