LIVINGSTON PARISH, LA (WAFB) - The man charged with the murder of a Denham Springs couple pleaded not guilty during his arraignment on Monday.
Michael Collins, 45, was charged in the deaths of Eugene and Patricia Gurley. Eugene Gurley, 72, was a retired school teacher from Livingston Parish and was working as a swimming pool contractor. His wife Patricia, 70, assisted in running the business.
Collins nest court date is March 25 for pretrial motions. If convicted, Collins faces life in prison without the possibility of parole or probation.
Officers with the Denham Springs Police Department went to conduct a welfare check on the Gurleys after they were last heard from Oct. 29, 2018 around 4 p.m. Officers found the couple dead inside their business, National Pool Builders, on Pete’s Highway. An autopsy revealed they both died from blunt force trauma to the head.
“When you think about two longtime residents who are well known in Denham Springs, two elderly individuals, certainly, it is an important case, a horrific crime,” said District Attorney Scott Perrilloux.
Collins, who lived on the Gurleys' property, was named a suspect very early on in the investigation, but Denham Springs Police Chief Shannon Womack said Collins fled in the Gurleys’ truck to Kentucky.
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On Nov. 3, a tip from the Greater Baton Rouge Crime Stoppers provided information about Collins’ location in Kentucky. Within hours, the Louisiana State Police Fugitive Apprehension Task Force was able to coordinate with the Allen County Sheriff’s Office, the Scottsville Police Department, and Kentucky State Police to arrest Collins.
The Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality (LDEQ) aviation staff, DSPD, and LSP took custody of Collins in Allen County, Kentucky and transported him back to Denham Springs. After DSPD interviewed and processed Collins, he was transported to the Livingston Parish Detention Center, where he was charged.
Perrilloux said the death penalty will not be sought in this case.
“We do not plan to seek the death penalty. This was an issue and a matter that was discussed with the family and after talking about the legal and practical aspects of a death penalty case, the decision was made to not to seek the death penalty,” Perrilloux explained.