Dana Lynn Smith did not beat Nelson Dunbar to death in his Baton Rouge mobile home in 2002, but she is still a “murderer” because she “counseled and procured” someone to steal money and marijuana from the mobile home, a prosecutor told a jury Tuesday.
Barry Fontenot argued in his opening statement at Smith’s second-degree murder trial that Smith, 51, is a principal to second-degree murder because she gave Melvin Toups a key to get into Dunbar’s mobile home on Elliott Road southeast of the city limits.
Fontenot alleged Toups, 31, of Donaldsonville, who also is charged with second-degree murder but is not standing trial with Smith, killed Dunbar, 47, when a sleeping Dunbar awoke and confronted Toups.
Dunbar’s body was discovered Aug. 1, 2002, inside the mobile home.
Smith’s attorney, Bo Rougeou, told jurors that Smith and her two daughters had lived with Dunbar for a few weeks but moved out because Smith quickly grew tired of him.
Rougeou said Smith, of Baton Rouge, was merely “venting” and expressing her “hatred” for Dunbar when she said someone ought to take his money and drugs.
“If she had known Mr. Toups was stupid enough to do something like that, she never would have brought it up,” he said.
The prosecutor said Smith alerted authorities that Dunbar was missing in an attempt to throw them off.
Smith and Toups were arrested in August 2002 but not prosecuted in the killing of Dunbar. They were indicted in February 2010 and re-arrested.
District Attorney Hillar Moore III has said the Dunbar case was one of the “cold’’ cases his office began looking into when he took office in January 2009.
A second-degree murder conviction carries a mandatory sentence of life in prison.
State District Judge Mike Erwin is presiding over the trial, which will resume Wednesday.