Murder suspect in 1984 cold case will go to trial Wednesday

Suspect in 1984 cold case will go to trial Wednesday
Leila Mulla (Source: EBRSO)
Leila Mulla (Source: EBRSO)

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - What began way back in 1984 could begin its final chapter, as a man accused of a murder from nearly 30 years old was in court Tuesday. A 12-person jury has been seated in the trial against Ronald Dunnagan.

Dunnagan, 66, is charged with second-degree murder in death of Gary Kergan. Dunnagan is accused of robbing and killing the victim in 1984.

His trial begins Wednesday in Judge Mike Erwin's courtroom. It's something the Kergan family said they have waited on for 31 years.

"It is here finally," said Gary's younger brother Ted Kergan. "Over 31 years, there were certainly times where I got discouraged and had to really give myself a pep talk to keep on with it."

Officials said Kergan went missing on Nov. 29, 1984. Ted said he spoke to his brother the night before for what would be the very last time. His brother was last seen leaving a night club on Plank Road with an exotic dancer, Leila Mulla.

His missing car was found in Metairie with puddles of blood in the trunk, but his body has never been found.

"You know, it's like getting injected with the worst emotion you could possibly ever have," said Ted in a 2012 interview.

Mulla and her then boyfriend Ronald Dunnagan were accused of the killing. Detectives were able to track her down to Las Vegas where detectives said they found her diary complete with plans to kill Kergan and also implicating her boyfriend.

"It became quite clear to investigators that the homicide of Gary Kergan was not just not an unfortunate random act but was most likely a planned event," said BRPD's Cold Case Division Detective John Dauthier in 2012.

However because there was not enough evidence in the case 30 plus years ago, the case went cold. Then in 2012, when Dauthier said DNA technology linked Mulla and Dunnagan once again to the murder. Both were arrested.

"Ronald Dunnagan was located living just outside Bossier City, Louisiana. Leila Mulla was located living in an apartment in Astoria, New York," said Dauthier.

Mulla pleaded guilty to manslaughter charges last year, adding she served Kergan poisoned wine before she and Dunnagan robbed and killed him. Mulla is expected to testify against Dunnagan at trial.

Detective Dauthier is expected to be the first witness on the stand Wednesday.

Meanwhile, Gary's son Wade Kergan hopes the trial brings justice for his father.

"I think about him every day, and I miss him," said Wade.

Opening statements are expected Wednesday morning. The lead prosecutor, Dana Cummings, is expected to present 13 witnesses.

If convicted of second-degree murder, Dunnagan faces life in prison.

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