Laf. sheriff: Pattern of abuse seen in child

Landon Broussard, left, and Laura Smith Show caption
Landon Broussard, left, and Laura Smith

Lafayette sheriff says pattern of abuse seen in child found dead

A 3-year-old boy who was found dead Thursday appeared to have been the victim of severe abuse, according to affidavits filed by investigators to support the arrest of the child’s mother and her boyfriend.

The boyfriend, Landon C. Broussard, 21, was booked late Thursday on one count of first-degree murder in the death of Julian Madera.

The boy’s mother, Laura D. Smith, 22, was booked on a count of principal to first-degree murder.

Lafayette Parish sheriff’s deputies received a 911 call at 10:22 a.m. Thursday reporting that a child was unresponsive at the home of Broussard’s grandmother in the 3700 block of Kaliste Saloom Road.

Broussard had arrived there a short time earlier carrying the naked and lifeless body of the young boy, according to the affidavit filed by investigators to secure a warrant for Broussard’s arrest.

The grandmother called 911, but first responders were unable to revive the child, who was pronounced dead after being transported to Women’s and Children’s Hospital nearby, according to the Sheriff’s Office.

The affidavit states that the 3-year-old had suffered blunt force trauma to several areas of his body, his eyes were swollen shut, one of his ears was torn and his body was covered in several bruises old and new.

The Coroner’s Office had yet to determine the exact cause of death as of Friday afternoon and additional testing is expected, said Sheriff’s Office spokesman Capt. Kip Judice.

Broussard told his grandmother that he found the boy unresponsive in the bathtub Thursday morning and that a door had fallen on him the night before, according to the affidavit.

Investigators wrote in the affidavit that Broussard’s story was not “consistent with the injuries observed.”

A search of the home where the boy had been living turned up drops of what appeared to be blood in his bedroom and a bathroom, according to the affidavit.

Authorities do not allege that the mother played an active role in the abuse, but she faces charges for allegedly not trying to stop it.

The mother told detectives that she had been abused by Broussard and that she had seen him abuse her son, including forcing him to eat feces, but was afraid to seek help, according to the affidavit filed to support her arrest.

“The suspect (Smith) had several opportunities while she was away from her boyfriend at school to seek aid for her child but did not,” investigators wrote in the affidavit. “The victim instead repeatedly left her son in her boyfriend’s care while she attended class.”

Broussard is being held in the Lafayette Parish Correction Center without bail.

Smith’s bail was set at $500,000.

She was in tears when answering routine questions about her address and birth date during a brief court appearance Friday morning.

“Hold on, Mrs. Smith. It’s too late to cry,” said 15th Judicial District Court Commissioner Thomas Frederick.

Both Smith and Broussard told Frederick that they could not afford an attorney.

He referred their cases to the 15th Judicial District Public Defenders Office.