LAFAYETTE — Brandon Scott Lavergne is scheduled to appear before a 15th Judicial District judge at 9 a.m. July 27 for a preliminary examination and bond reduction in his arrest in the May 19 disappearance of Michaela “Mickey” Shunick, of Lafayette.
Judge Herman C. Clause signed the order Tuesday afternoon.
Lavergne, 33, of the Lawtell area in St. Landry Parish, is being held without bail at the Lafayette Parish Correctional Center on counts of first-degree murder and aggravated kidnapping in the University of Louisiana at Lafayette student’s disappearance.
Lavergne’s attorney, Burleigh G. Doga, initially filed the motion Monday at the Lafayette Parish Courthouse.
Prosecutor Keith Stutes filed an answer to the motion Tuesday, arguing that a grand jury will take up Lavernge’s case Wednesday and those proceedings will essentially serve the same purpose as a preliminary examination.
“Either proceeding provides an inquiry into the legality of defendant’s detention and thereby serves the primary objection of the law,” Stutes wrote, citing existing case law.
The state’s motion says the state is not required to present the same case in different forums at the same time. The motion also says a delay in the preliminary examination until the grand jury has acted would not be prejudicial to the defendant.
Stutes also noted that state District Judge Marilyn Castle has already determined probable cause to support Lavergne’s arrest since she signed off on the issuance of his arrest warrants.
“A delay in the setting of a preliminary examination and reduction of bond is not prejudicial, but rather would be in the proper discretion of the court,” Stutes wrote.
District Attorney Mike Harson said in an email Monday that a preliminary examination or the request for one generally is vacated upon the issuing of a grand jury indictment, “since the indictment generally satisfies the question of probable cause.”
On Tuesday, Harson wrote in an email that Lavergne will not be invited to the grand jury proceeding.
“It’s not unusual, particularly in a first-degree murder charge, that the suspect will not be invited to the grand jury and he does not have a right to attend,” Harson wrote.
The 15th Judicial District Public Defender Office has declined to comment on the case, instead referring to a memo that states “justice is best served in the court of law, not in the court of public opinion.”
Shunick, an animal lover and avid cyclist, was last seen shortly before 2 a.m. leaving a friend’s home on Ryan Street near downtown on a black Schwinn bicycle on her way to her parent’s Governor Miro home about five miles away.
Authorities arrested Lavergne on July 5.
Lafayette police have said Lavergne was initially developed as a suspect after investigators received a tip June 14 connecting him to a white Chevrolet Z71 truck seen on surveillance video traveling in the same direction as Shunick near downtown Lafayette.
Lavergne’s truck was reported stolen in Texas and later found burned on May 31, a few days after police released a video image of the vehicle, police have said.
Investigators also have information linking Lavergne to the area under the Interstate 10 Whiskey Bay Bridge where Shunick’s bicycle was found May 26, Police Chief Jim Craft has said.
Last week, a Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office report said Lavergne checked himself into a hospital there for treatment of stab wounds hours after Shunick’s disappearance. Lavergne told a deputy that he had been robbed and attacked with a knife while at an unknown gas station in an unknown location in the parish, the report said.
Lavergne is a registered sex offender who was released from prison in 2008 after he served eight years on an aggravated oral sexual battery conviction for tying up, blindfolding and then sexually assaulting an 18-year-old woman in Evangeline Parish in 1999.