Jury for gold coins triple murder will be selected in Lafayette

Jury for gold coins triple murder will be selected in Lafayette
(left) Robert Irwin Marchand and his wife Shirley, (right) Douglas Dooley
(left) Robert Irwin Marchand and his wife Shirley, (right) Douglas Dooley

GONZALES, LA (WAFB) - The jury will be selected in Lafayette for the five men charged with killing a Gonzales couple and their son in a home invasion in February 2012.

According to a ruling by Judge Alvin Turner, the trial will happen in Gonzales. District Attorney Ricky Babin says 36-year-old Michael Aikens will go on trial first September 30, 2013.

Michael Aikens, Bernard James, Devon James, Travis Moore and Rolondo Stewart are accused in the 2012 slayings of Robert Marchand, 74; his wife, Shirley, 72; and her son, Douglas Dooley, 50. Investigators say the five suspects were trying to steal gold and valuable coins from the Marchand's home in Ascension Parish.

Deputies with the Ascension Parish Sheriff's Office went to the Marchands' home on Babin Road on Feb. 18 after family members were unable to get in touch with them. Robert Marchand and Dooley were already dead when deputies arrived on the scene. Shirley Marchand was clinging to life. Investigators said they were all found with their throats slashed. Shirley Marchand died almost two weeks after the attack.

Authorities said there was no forced entry into the home. A safe containing about $500,000 in gold coins was taken from the house. The safe was found two days later at a park in Livingston Parish. It had been torched open and most of the contents removed. The coins are still missing.

Several tools were found believed to have been used to rip open the safe. According to detectives, the tools were found inside an SUV registered to Devon James. They reported it was discovered at James' girlfriend's home in the Baker-Zachary area. They added the girlfriend was not charged.

Investigators said they suspect James was given money to allow the others to take the safe to his house and let them break into it there.

Prosecutors plan to seek the death penalty for Aikens and the three others charged with first degree murder in the case. All five suspects have pleaded not guilty to the murders.

Aikens, Stewart and Moore all have extensive criminal records with the Ascension Parish Sheriff's Office.

Aikens was arrested in 1996 for armed robbery and possession of cocaine, in 1997 for possession of drugs and in 2000 for illegal use of a weapon.

Stewart was arrested in 2009 for disturbing the peace, in 2011 for illegal carrying of a weapon and possession of marijuana and in 2012 for attempted murder and introduction of contraband into a penal facility.

Bernard James and Devon James did not have criminal records prior to their arrests in this case.

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