Landon Broussard attorneys told to seek state funding for defense

Man’s attorneys say funds lacking

A state district judge told Landon Broussard’s attorneys Monday to ask the Louisiana Public Defender Board when money would be available to hire expert witnesses and investigators in an eventual murder trial that could land Broussard on death row in the beating death of a 3-year-old boy late last year.

Broussard, his three attorneys and 15th District prosecutor William Babin appeared in Judge Durwood Conque’s courtroom Monday in what was supposed to be a pretrial motions hearing.

Instead, Conque addressed a court filing made late last week by Broussard’s attorneys that said their defendant was indigent, they needed money to help his defense and the case could not proceed without state money.

“In order for Mr. Broussard to receive a fair trial it will be necessary to conduct an extensive investigation into his character and background, the circumstances of the offense, and any other evidence that would mitigate against a sentence of death,” wrote Broussard attorneys Clay LeJeune, Kim Hayes and Elliott Brown in the document filed Thursday.

Broussard was indicted in March in the Nov. 29, 2012, beating death of 3-year-old Julien Madera, who was the son of Broussard’s girlfriend at the time, Laura Smith. Smith has been charged with one count of second-degree cruelty to a juvenile.

In April, Babin told Conque that prosecutors would seek the death penalty against Broussard. In October, Babin formalized the Lafayette Parish District Attorney’s Office’s intent to seek the death penalty.

Babin’s notice also spells out circumstances surrounding Julien’s death that he says call for the death penalty, including the allegation that Broussard was engaged in the act of raping the boy when death occurred.

Broussard faces a separate charge of raping Julien. A trial on that charge is scheduled Sept. 29, 2014.

On Monday, Broussard sat silently in his faded white-and-orange prison suit. He wore orange Crocs on his feet, and his wrists and ankles were manacled. He didn’t say anything.

Conque told Broussard’s attorneys they need to write a letter to the state defender board that contains specifics, including an estimate of how much money they’ll need to adequately defend Broussard.

LeJeune said the defender board’s money allotted to capital cases has been stretched thin by other Louisiana death penalty cases, and that next year a new round of state budget money could replenish the fund.

“It’s a balancing act on who’s going to get the money,” LeJeune said.

“That’s not my problem,” Conque responded.

Conque said the state defender board needs to weigh in on if and when it would allocate money to Broussard’s defense.

“I want to hear from the people who are going to write the check,” Conque said.

The money will not come from the local 15th Judicial District Public Defender Office, Broussard’s attorneys said.

Paul Marx, who heads local public defender offices in Lafayette, Vermilion and Acadia parishes, did not return a message left with his office Monday.

Broussard’s defense team intends to be thorough, according to the court document filed last week.

It stresses the importance of an investigation that looks deeply into Broussard’s history, including his prenatal and pediatric health, substance abuse and genetic disorders “as well as multi-generational patterns of behavior.”

Babin, the prosecutor, asked Conque to set a trial date for late 2014, which Conque declined to do.

Conque set Broussard’s next court hearing for Feb. 18.