A Louisiana man who was accused of raping his niece is now facing charges in connection with the death of his sister and neighbour after a botched murder-for-hire plot that was meant for his accuser, police say.
Hope Nettleton, 37, and Brittany Cormier, 34, were shot dead at Cormier’s home on Jan. 13 in a case of mistaken identity in Montegut, La., according to Terrebonne Parish Sheriff Tim Soignet.
Cormier’s brother, Beaux Cormier, allegedly hired two men to kill another family member who had accused him of rape, Soignet said in a news release. One of the hitmen showed up at Brittany Cormier’s door in search of the target, who was not home at the time.
Brittany Cormier confronted the man and claimed to be the target so he shot her dead, police said. Nettleton, who was visiting at the time from a neighbouring home, tried to fight off the hitman and was also killed.
“To have a double homicide of this nature is very unusual,” Sheriff Soignet said, according to local station WWL. He added that Cormier’s actions appeared to be deliberate and heroic.
“The shooter asking for the rape victim by name, and Brittany Cormier tells the shooter she’s the rape victim, accepting her fate to save the life of an actual victim,” he said.
Beaux Cormier, 35, Andrew Eskine, 25, and Dalvin Wilson, 22, were arrested Friday on charges of first-degree murder. Authorities say Wilson was the gunman, while Eskine helped plan the hit and provided the truck used to visit the house.
Beaux Cormier was previously arrested in Vermilion Parish on a third-degree rape charge involving the intended murder victim, authorities say. He is also a convicted sex offender.
Soignet says Cormier hired Eksine and Wilson to kill his accuser so she could not testify against him.
Authorities say the men had tried to carry out the hit at an earlier date but were unsuccessful.
Tom Hopton, who lives in the neighbourhood where the shooting happened, said the two victims were very close.
“I feel for these families. It’s tough,” he told WWL. “The whole story is bizarre and so unnecessary and so tragic.”
District Attorney Joe Waitz Jr. said a $2-million bond had been set for the suspects, and it wasn’t immediately clear if they had lawyers.
“The death penalty is definitely on the table,” Waitz said.
—With files from The Associated Press
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