HOUMA, La. - Two of the four men accused of raping, killing and dumping the body of a Galliano mother of four pleaded guilty during Friday court appearances, prosecutors said.
Esdras Garcia, 23, and Gonzalo Cortes, 22, will each sentenced to 60 years in prison in connection with the death of Angela Laudun, 33, who was raped in a vacant house, strangled and dumped in the woods off La. 3235.
Each entered a guilty plea to duplicate charges of manslaughter and obstruction of justice, the latter for tampering with evidence, prosecutors said. A grand jury had indicted both on a charge of second-degree murder,
Both men are expected to testify against the remaining defendants, Luis Nava and Jose Moreno. Their trial is set for later this month.
The Mexican immigrant workers allegedly confessed to raping and killing Laudun in Galliano May 8, 2010. The men said they met her at Tequila Sunrise, the Cut Off bar where she worked, and they each had sex with her prior to her death.
The men have said the sex was consensual in the beginning. Laudun’s family has steadfastly refuted that allegation.
Lafourche District Attorney Cam Morvant II initially pledged to seek the death penalty against all four men. He later said there were “issues with some of the facts of the case” that prevented the four from being charged with first-degree murder. First-degree murder is the intentional taking of another’s life while in the commission of another crime, such as rape or robbery.
They were later indicted by a grand jury of second-degree murder, which carries a mandatory sentence of life in prison. Second-degree murder is also the intentional taking of another’s life.
Laudun’s family was included in the plea-agreement decision, Morvant said, adding “this was an appropriate sentence and appropriate agreement.”
Kelly Dotson, Laudun’s sister, said she wished the men would have gotten the death penalty, “but that wasn’t going to happen.”
“They did the best job with what they had,” she said. “They have kept me and my family abreast of what was going on the whole way through. ... They let us know what our options were. If we wanted to go on with the trial, it would have lasted longer, and we might not have gotten the results that we got.”
Still, Dotson said a death sentence would have given her the most closure.
“It’s going to be a lot harder to death with, knowing that they’re alive,” she said. “Even though they’re behind bars and at hard labor. They’re still living, they’re still breathing, they still get to hear from their mothers and fathers,” she said. “My nieces and nephews can’t.”
Judge Walter Lanier III sentenced Garcia and Cortes, both of 12 Quality Shipyards, Houma, to 30 years for each charge. They will be available for parole after they have served the majority of their sentence, but Morvant said he does not know when they will be eligible for parole.
Katie Urbaszewski can be reached at 448-7617 or firstname.lastname@example.org.