Judge denies bond for suspect in Iberville Parish cold case from 25 years ago

Judge denies bond for suspect in Iberville Parish cold case from 25 years ago

PLAQUEMINE, LA (WAFB) - The man accused of killing two people decades ago in Iberville Parish will have to stay behind bars until his trial.

Judge Alvin Batiste Jr. denied bond for Tommy Francise, 61, of Plaquemine, who faces two counts of second-degree murder, one of them being a cold case from 25 years ago in which a body was never found.

Batiste decided that, in part, after two of Francise's ex-girlfriends delivered harrowing testimony to try and keep him in jail.

Inside of court, officials said that Francise has been arrested 28 times since 1985. They describe him as a "dangerous" man who is capable and who has threatened prosecutors as well as two former girlfriends.

"I've lived in a prison for 25 years. He's stalked me. He vandalized my entire shop. He broke into my shop. He had keys made of my house," said D'Ette Himell, who dated Francise decades ago.

Francise was arrested Thursday, Oct. 27 on two counts of second-degree murder in connection with the deaths of Curtis "Cochise" Smith and George Barrett Jr.

The first murder was in February 1991 when investigators said he killed Smith for allegedly stealing his air compressor. Though Smith's body has never been found, detectives said he was shot and stuffed in a barrel, holes poked in that barrel with water filled in it and then tossed in a bayou.

Then in 2002, Barrett was killed after he threatened to go to the police for his alleged role in helping get rid of Smith's body in 1991. Barrett's body was found inside his own home shot twice in the head.

"He's still a dangerous person, at least we feel, and he should be locked up," said lead prosecutor Tony Clayton.

Clayton requested the judge deny Francise bond.

Himell took the stand saying he confessed to her about Smith's murder while she was wired for the Iberville Parish Sheriff's Office to get his confession recorded.

"He said that he shot him in the head when the man entered his home, then he put him in a barrel, drew holes in the barrel and placed him in the river where he would never be found," Himell said.

During testimony, Himell said Francise was 100 percent capable of what he was accused of, adding he may even attempt to leave the country if he bonds out.

"He had said several times that he had friends and family in other countries, Texas, Lebanon. He would use that as a threat against us saying that he could always get out and that the sheriff's office was nothing and that he could get away with murder," Himell said.

Meanwhile, Barrett's family was also in court listening to the what two witnesses said happened to Barrett. His son said it's been a long time coming and he can now start to feel some closure but has one question.

"Why, why would you take a human life? Nobody deserves to lose their life. I don't care who they are," said George Barrett III.

Both of Francise's ex-girlfriends said if he's let out, they would not make it to his next court hearing and even end up on his chalkboard he kept of all the people he had it out for.

"He's a danger to society. The man is intelligent. He's very smart and every move he makes is planned. He plans it," Himell said.

"Now that Judge Batiste did not give him a bond, those ladies will be able to enjoy their holidays and hopefully the rest of their lives," Clayton said.

Prosecutors plan to introduce the case to an Iberville Parish grand jury in December.


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