Donaldsonville man gets 25 years in beating death

A judge sentenced a 31-year-old Donaldsonville man to 25 years in prison Thursday in the 2002 beating death of a Baton Rouge man in his Elliott Road mobile home.

State District Judge Mike Erwin gave Melvin Toups the same sentence he imposed last month on co-defendant Dana Lynn Smith, 51, of Baton Rouge.

Smith is scheduled to return to court next week for a hearing on her request that the judge reconsider her sentence.

Toups and Smith pleaded guilty in September to manslaughter charges in the killing of Nelson Dunbar, 47. Under the terms of their plea agreements, Smith and Toups were to be sentenced to no more than 25 years in prison. Both had been charged with second-degree murder, which carries a mandatory sentence of life in prison.

Dunbar’s body was discovered Aug. 1, 2002, inside his mobile home.

Smith and Toups were arrested in August 2002 but not prosecuted in the killing of Dunbar. 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.

Prosecutor Barry Fontenot said previously in court that Smith gave Toups a key to Dunbar’s mobile home so Toups could steal money and 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 on Sept. 20 that he had no intention of killing Dunbar and that Dunbar was breathing when Toups left the scene. Dunbar died of internal head injuries, Fontenot said.

The prosecutor said there was no intent to kill Dunbar.