ASCENSION PARISH, LA (WAFB) - The 23rd Judicial District Attorney Ricky Babin made an alarming discovery while going through case files set for trial this year. The number of murders has more than doubled.
Babin is used to carrying heavy caseloads between Ascension, Assumption, and St. James Parishes. But this year, he said, his office is slammed with an unusual number of homicides in one parish in particular.
"I'll just speak to Ascension. One, two, zero, or three murders a year would be an average year. Last year we had eight," Babin said.
One of them involves the final suspect in the vicious 2012 triple murder at the Gonzales home of Robert and Shirley Marchand. Detectives believe five people were responsible for killing the couple and their son, Douglas Dooley, to get their hands on a safe that contained valuable coins. The final suspect in the case, Devon James, is set to go on trial in the Spring.
"It was a heinous crime and I just think the community needs to heal."
Two others involve separate domestic disputes that ended in murders on Roddy Road. David Adams and Gerardo Lua are both charged with second degree murder. Another man, Dominique Brown, is going on trial for allegedly murdering a hair stylist.
Babin said his cases point to something bigger.
"Ascension Parish is not the rural parish that it used to be. We've become urbanized. We are a suburb of Baton Rouge and we are seeing the results."
While tackling the homicide cases, Babin's office is also busy with hundreds of others including the child pornography and animal cruelty charges brought against ex-Sorrento Mayor Wilson Longanecker Junior.
Babin said keeping the cases current and building them accurately can be costly. The District Attorney said this year he has had to hire additional investigators and office workers.
"We had to go to the parish and beg and borrow to get additional funding for the office to make sure we can keep up."
Now that he has secured the funding, Babin said his staff is busy preparing for three murder trials all set for March.
"All in all it's going to be an extremely busy year for our office."