LAFAYETTE - The mother of the woman killed in a car crash that led to a vehicular homicide charge against fugitive Wade Lohse said Tuesday that a video Lohse has posted on YouTube attempting to minimize his responsibility in the drunken-driving accident "made me sick."
Cindy Dugan Barras said the 11-minute, 18-second video, which includes segments in which Lohse talks about the crash that killed her daughter, 29-year-old Cacie Barras McGrew, "was very hard to handle."
Lohse claims in the video that prosecutors are trying to railroad him with charges that are not warranted.
"It made me sick," Barras said. "There was no remorse in his statement. ... I'm not going to let someone like him bring me down because he'll have his day."
Authorities said Lohse was alcohol-impaired when the Jeep Cherokee he was driving crossed the center line on Youngsville Highway at about 11:30 p.m. June 10 and rammed into the vehicle McGrew was driving.
Lohse, 43, was later charged with vehicular homicide.
Lohse vanished March 25 from the Lafayette Parish courtroom where he was to stand trial that morning on one count of felony weapons possession. His attorney, Thomas Alonzo, and Assistant District Attorney J.N. Prather had hashed out a plea agreement that morning that would combine the weapons charge with the one count of vehicular homicide and a simple burglary charge.
"He agreed and then he left," Alonzo said Tuesday.
At almost 11 a.m., Lohse told Alonzo and Prather he needed to deposit coins in a courthouse parking meter. He never returned.
"He understood his rights fully, and then made a decision not to come back to court," Alonzo said.
On the video, Lohse claims prosecutors are trying to railroad him with the charges, including the vehicular homicide allegation that followed McGrew's death. Lohse also claims prosecutors withheld evidence that might show McGrew was texting or talking on her cellphone at the time of the crash.
Alonzo said he and Lohse received all the evidence from prosecutors they've requested.
"I haven't received any indication that she was on her cellphone at the time of the accident," Alonzo said.
According to federal and state court records, and a notice by the Lafayette Parish Sheriff's Office, Lohse has a fairly long criminal history.
A U.S. District Court judge in New Orleans in 1998 sentenced Lohse to 10 years in prison for illegal possession of firearms. He was released in 2006, records show.
The Lafayette Parish Sheriff's Office on its website states that Lohse's criminal history started when he was 18. The website said he has been convicted in New Jersey for burglary, carrying a prohibited weapon, aggravated assault on police and carjacking and in Pennsylvania for burglary.
"Lohse has had a number of other violent arrests that did not result in conviction," the website states.
Sheriff's spokesman Capt. Kip Judice said Tuesday that detectives are continuing to search for Lohse. Judice also said local officials have not heard whether Lohse would be placed on the U.S. Marshals Service's 15 most wanted fugitives list, as they have requested, nor whether Lohse would be featured on the television program "America's Most Wanted."
Sheriff Mike Neustrom, however, has designated Lohse as Lafayette Parish's most wanted fugitive.
Alonzo said he still believes his client, once he's caught or turns himself in, can get a fair trial in Lafayette.
Alonzo conceded that with all the media scrutiny and social media publicity, to which Lohse contributed with the YouTube video, it might take a while to seat a jury.
"He's entitled to a fair Lafayette Parish jury, and he will get one, but it will probably take some time …," Alonzo said.