Jordan Gribble / Houma Courier
TERREBONNE PARISH -- A convicted killer and rapist who held bank employees, including his estranged wife, hostage more than 17 years ago wasn't mentally competent and his case was ill prepared when he went to trial, his former attorney said at a Monday court hearing.
The hearing for former Terrebonne Parish sheriff's deputy Chad Louviere continues Wednesday in District Judge John Walker's courtroom.
Louviere received the death sentence for murdering one woman and raping four others in a one-day crime spree in October 1996. He is asking a judge to reduce his sentence to life.
“It was my opinion that he was mentally ill,” said his former attorney, Phyllis Mann, who joined his defense team months before his case went to trial.
She said the case she came into was in disarray.
“I was pretty horrified,” Mann said. “There was no overarching theory, nothing was organized, nothing was planned and there were no mental health markups for Louviere.”
In addition to being disorganized, the defense team was running out of time and money, Mann said. The team was unable to pay for important experts on mental health matters and that may have lead to the defense's inability to submit a not guilty by reason of insanity plea, she said.
Louviere was diagnosed with bipolar disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder and psychosis, and had a long family history of mental illness and sexual abuse, his New Orleans based attorney Caroline Tillman said at an evidentiary hearing in October.
Louviere was prematurely advised to plead guilty when he could have easily argued an insanity defense, Tillman said.
Just weeks before his trial was set to begin, Mann said, Louviere was sending his attorneys rambling letters. Those letters did not discuss the details of his upcoming trial but focused on mundane facets of his life in prison.
One of the letters was a long list of all of the magazines available to read on the floor of his prison cell, Mann said.
“He listed pretty much every magazine you could think of,” she said.
Leading up to the trial Louviere had become incredibly paranoid and began experiencing unusual dreams, Mann said.
“He thought the state was out to get him,” she said.
Louviere had begun showing symptoms of mental illness long before his trial began, possibly aided by his use of ephedrine-based over-the-counter drugs, Mann said.
Louviere's 24-hour violent spree began around 8:30 a.m. Oct. 17, 1996, when he was off-duty but still in uniform, according to police.
He stopped a woman on Bull Run Road, sprayed her with mace and handcuffed her, then drove her in his patrol car to a remote sugarcane field. There, Louviere raped her several times.
Louviere then took her back to her own vehicle, provided his name and gave her two options: She could call him again for a date or turn him in and he would kill her and her family.
Around 10:30 a.m., Louviere drove to the Argent Bank — now Capital One — at the corner of Grand Caillou and Moffet roads where his wife was working that day. He walked in with a bag containing an AR-15 assault rifle and ordered the two male customers out of the building. Five tellers and the manager, all women, remained inside. Louviere locked the doors, looked from woman to woman, then shot Pamela Duplantis, a mother of a 9-year-old girl, in the head.
He was charged with murder, raping two other female bank employees and multiple counts of kidnapping.
In December 1998, Louviere pleaded guilty to the murder of Duplantis. After a four-day trial to determine his sentence — a choice between life in prison or death — a jury chosen from East Baton Rouge sentenced Louviere to death despite his family members' pleas for his life.