Former stripper details plans to kill Kergan in day 2 of 1984 cold case murder trial
BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Closing arguments are set for Friday morning as the proceedings in the murder trial of a suspect in a case from 30 years ago picked up Thursday with the seventh witness called by the prosecution.
Ronald Dunnagan, 66, is charged with second-degree murder. He is accused of robbing and killing Gary Kergan in 1984. Kergan's body was never found.
Testimony wrapped up Wednesday with R.E. Thompson, a former Baton Rouge police officer, who was one of the original detectives on the case back in 1984. Several hours were spent with him on the stand showing jurors pictures and evidence from 1984.
The trial resumed Thursday just before 10:15 a.m. with Ross Williams, a Baton Rouge detective, taking the stand. Williams questioned Dunnagan in 2012 when he was arrested. The video of the interview was played for jurors. In the recording, Williams asked Dunnagan if he said, "You ain't got nothing because you don't have a body."
"I didn't murder him," Dunnagan said on the recording. "As far as I know, he's still alive."
When asked when he last saw Leila Mulla, his former girlfriend, Dunnagan said it was in Las Vegas.
Charles Andrews, the prosecution's eighth witness, took stand around 10:45 a.m. He is a retired Louisiana State Police Crime Lab technician and took fingerprints from Dunnagan in Mulla's apartment back in 1984.
The Baton Rouge Police Department reported Kergan went missing on Nov. 29, 1984. They added he was last seen leaving a night club on Plank Road with Mulla, who was an exotic dancer at the time.
The prosecution's star witness, Leila Mulla, was the last of 11 to take the stand in the trial. Mulla is now 50 years old, but she was only 19 when Gary Kergan was killed.
The former stripper and prostitute has already pleaded guilty to manslaughter charges last year and is serving 30 years. On Thursday, she testified against her then boyfriend and pimp, Ronald Dunnagan.
"It's hard to hear the details of the crime," said Kergan's younger brother Ted Kergan.
The Kergan family sat through Mulla's testimony Thursday as she told the jury how she met Gary Kergan.
"[Gary Kergan] was buying me drinks and I was drinking quite a bit and eventually, he became one of my customers," said Mulla.
She further told jurors how Dunnagan came up with the plan to kill Kergan in 1984.
"Ronald Dunnagan told me he owned some Sonic restaurants so we started calling him 'Sonic Gary.' Ronald Dunnagan thought it would be a good idea for us to rob and kill him," said Mulla.
Mulla painted a picture of Dunnagan forcing her to prostitute, adding he did not work and instead took all of her money from her so called "tricks."
"The plan was we were going to poison him. Ron had done some research," said Mulla detailing the plan for the jurors. "We were going to poison him and he would dispose of the body. He called up different trash companies to find out the price of how much they charge because he wanted to dispose of the body in the dumpster."
Mulla said they specifically chose Nov. 29, 1984 because Kergan had a routine and prior to that, he had come to her apartment, had wine and sex. So that night, she said, "We had sex and when we were done, I went to the refrigerator and poured wine in both glasses. In one glass, there was white residue, and that's the glass I was to give to Gary and I gave it to him."
From there, Mulla said Kergan started choking and saying, "Help me." She said she got scared and Dunnagan jumped out of the bedroom closet where he was hiding and put a pillow over his face until he quit moving and breathing.
"The only thing I can think about today is what must have been going through his mind the last two or three minutes he was alive," said Ted Kergan.
Mulla went on to say Dunnagan spent the next few hours in the bathroom with Kergan's body, came out and the two went to a few dumpsters around town and Dunnagan dumped the plastic bags.
Mulla said Dunnagan cleaned the apartment the next day and they left for Las Vegas.
Defense Attorney Susan Hebert spent her cross examination trying to poke holes in Mulla's testimony and prove that the only reason she was now testifying against Dunnagan was so her 30-year sentence could be reduced as part of her plea deal.
The prosecution rested after Mulla's testimony. The defense did not present any witnesses and also rested.
If convicted of second-degree murder, Dunnagan faces a life sentence.
Dana Cummings is the lead prosecutor. Judge Mike Erwin is presiding over the case.
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