Saturday, September 22, 2018

Jury convicts Bandy of 1st-Degree Murder of Grace Lamonte

Jury convicts Bandy of 1st-Degree Murder of Grace Lamonte
Posted: May 15, 2018
Categories: Front Page, Crime
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AMITE—A 12-member Tangipahoa Parish jury found Ronald Dean Bandy guilty as charged Tuesday night to murder in the first degree in the August 2009 death of 68-year-old Grace Lamonte of Baptist.

The jury was unanimous in their decision, as reported to 21st Judicial District Judge Elizabeth Wolfe shortly before 9 p.m. Tuesday.

Courtroom One of the Tangipahoa Parish Courthouse was eerily quiet as the verdict was read in open court late Tuesday. Bandy’s family sat behind him on the first row of the left side of the courtroom while more than two rows of Lamonte’s family and supporters spilled over waiting with hushed breath to hear the verdict.

Assistant District Attorneys Le’Anne Malnar and Joseph Oubre referred to the jury’s decision as the “just verdict” based on four days of testimony and more than 120 pieces of physical evidence from the crime scene and other related materials associated with the case.

The State relied heavily on Louisiana’s “Law of Principals, ” by which the defendant need not be physically on the scene of the crime to be considered guilty of the offense. In her closing arguments on Tuesday, Malnar pointed to more than a dozen instances in testimony over the last four days when witnesses said that Bandy “orchestrated” the scheme by which Jarvis Monroe and Benny Flowers broke into the Lamonte home and shot the elderly Lamonte couple. Grace Lamonte sustained a close range bullet wound to the head. She died at the scene. Her husband, then 72-year-old Anthony Lamonte, was shot four times. He survived and testified against Bandy at the trial last week.

Yet defense attorney Margaret Lagattuta maintained that Bandy, now 33, was not the offender responsible for killing Grace Lamonte. She said the State’s case was made up of “sloppy police work,” lies from co-defendant Benny Flowers, and absolutely no physical evidence putting Bandy at the Lamonte home on the night of Aug. 22/early Aug. 23, 2009.

“No one has testified in this case that my client was in the house,” Lagattuta said, pointing to what she called unreliable testimony from Flowers, a “known liar,” whose recollection of the night’s events was supposedly tainted by his plea agreement under which he will serve less than 20 years for his role in the Lamonte case.

“Clearly Benny is lying. Benny’s been lying since the beginning,” Lagattuta told the jury.

But it was too little too late for the jury who needed less than two hours, including dinner, to make their deliberations.

During breaks in the case Tuesday, Malnar and Oubre visited with members of the Lamonte family, offering them encouragement and sharing hugs through some the of the longest hours of the more than eight-days of court.

Sentencing is set for Aug. 17. The first degree murder conviction carries with it a mandatory life in prison sentence.
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