A man and a woman pleaded guilty Thursday to manslaughter charges in the 2002 beating death of a Baton Rouge man in his Elliott Road trailer home.
State District Judge Mike Erwin said he will sentence Dana Lynn Smith, 51, of Baton Rouge and Melvin Toups, 31, of Donaldsonville on Jan. 29.
They are being held without bond.
Under the terms of their plea bargain agreements, Smith and Toups will not be sentenced to more than 25 years in prison in the slaying of Nelson Dunbar, 47.
The guilty pleas came as Smith was standing trial on a second-degree murder charge in the killing of Dunbar.
Prosecutor Barry Fontenot explained in court Thursday that Smith gave Toups a key to Dunbar’s trailer so that Toups could steal marijuana from the trailer.
While Toups was doing that, the prosecutor said, a sleeping Dunbar awoke and a fight broke out between the two men.
Toups punched Dunbar several times and tied him up, Fontenot said.
Toups told Erwin he had no intention of killing Dunbar and that Dunbar was breathing when Toups left the scene.
Fontenot said Dunbar died of internal head injuries.
The prosecutor also said in court that there was no intent to kill Dunbar.
In accepting Smith’s guilty plea, the judge said Smith acknowledged that she and Toups “participated in this plan together.”
Dunbar’s body was discovered Aug. 1, 2002, inside the mobile home.
In his opening statement Tuesday to the jury, Fontenot called Smith a “murderer” because she “counseled and procured” Toups to steal money and marijuana from Dunbar’s mobile home southeast of the city limits.
Smith’s attorney, Bo Rougeou, had 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 Dunbar.
Rougeou said Smith 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.
Smith and Toups were arrested in August 2002 but not prosecuted in the killing of Dunbar.
Then, in February 2010, they were indicted and re-arrested.
East Baton Rouge Parish 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.