Ruling: Combined trial for Dennis Perkins, wife
LIVINGSTON PARISH, La. (WAFB) - A judge in Livingston Parish has ruled that former sheriff’s deputy Dennis Perkins and his wife will not have separate trials.
The ruling came from District Court Judge Erika Sledge, who presided over a hearing on the trial separation issue last week.
The combined trial for Perkins and his wife, former school teacher Cynthia Perkins, is still scheduled to start next month.
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The couple is accused of a multitude of charges including rape, producing child pornography, and participating in feeding desserts laced with his semen to school children. Dennis, a former Livingston parish sheriff’s deputy, is also accused of sexual abuse of an animal. The couple has pleaded not guilty to the charges.
Dennis Perkins is represented by defense attorney Jarrett Ambeau.
Ambeau asked the court to separate the trials after learning that Cynthia Perkins planned to point the finger at her husband and claim that he put her up to all. And, because some evidence ruled inadmissible at trial against his client has been ruled admissible for Cynthia Perkins and vice versa.
“My client has the constitutional right now to sit next to someone who will point the finger at him,” Ambeau said during last week’s hearing.
In issuing her ruling, Judge Sledge said the court has not been presented with any “details in regards to antagonistic defenses.” “The court is aware that providing specific information pertaining to antagonism puts the defense in the position of having to disclose details about trial strategy,” the judge wrote. “However, an allegation of antagonism alone is insufficient to establish that a severance is warranted.”
Prosecutors from the Louisiana Attorney General’s Office pushed for a combined trial. Prosecutors said having just one trial would save witnesses, some of whom are minors, from having to publicly tell their stories twice. And, it would save time and money for the court system.
As for the evidence that can be used against one but not the other, the judge said she will clearly instruct the jury about that. “Instructions to the jury regarding the proper consideration of this evidence as to each defendant are sufficient to prevent undue prejudice and allow for a joint trial,” Sledge wrote her order.
Ambeau said Wednesday morning that he is considering filing a writ to ask a higher court to review Sledge’s decision,
A trial for Dennis Perkins might not be necessary. Ambeau says his client is hopeful to reach a plea deal with prosecutors to avoid a trial. Prosecutors said last week they had not been presented with a plea offer but were prepared for trial.
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