Jacob Batte / Houma Courier
Lafourche Parish has spent more than $230,000 prosecuting a Thibodaux man accused of killing, decapitating and dismembering his disabled son, the district attorney said.
Jeremiah Wright, 32, was found not guilty by reason of insanity in February for the 2011 murder of 7-year-old Jori Lirette.
He remains in the Lafourche jail pending transfer to East Louisiana State Hospital, a state-run mental facility, but there’s a waiting list for the intensive psychiatric care he needs, officials said.
Prosecutors spent $231,612 preparing for the multiple competency hearings that led to February’s verdict, Lafourche District Attorney Cam Morvant said.
Cases involving mental illness typically are “more costly than other types of cases because you’re not just looking at a moment in time,” Morvant said. In Wright’s case, in-depth mental health examinations and an investigation into a childhood partly spent in foster care were required.
By comparison, the prosecution of Amy Hebert, a south Lafourche woman convicted of killing her two children in 2009, cost taxpayers $300,000.
Morvant said he doesn’t “cut corners” when it comes to trials, but he strives to spend wisely because he recognizes that taxpayer money is being used.
The bulk of the bill, $172,652, came from The Forensic Panel, which studied 5,000 pages of reports detailing the boy’s death and Wright’s mental health history and foster care experiences, he said.
Wright’s stay at the Lafourche jail, just over 300 days, is costing taxpayers $4 per day, or about $1,200 to date. Wright also spent about a year at East Louisiana State Hospital.
“We’re simply waiting on a bed,” Lafourche sheriff’s spokesman Brennan Matherne said of Wright’s pending transfer. “It’s not unprecedented for it to take years for a bed to become available.”
Wright won’t get the court-mandated treatment until that transfer goes through, Matherne said.