ZACHARY -- The man and woman accused of killing a woman and her three-year old son and trying to kill two other children will be tried separately.
Motions by the lawyers for Dominique Smith, 30, of Wilson, and Trendall Matthews, 25, of Jackson, to separate the two trials in the capital murder case will not be opposed, Assistant District Attorney Darwin Miller told District Judge Tony Marabella, court records stated.
Smith and Matthews are each charged with two counts of first-degree murder for the May 4, 2008, slayings of Jessica Palmer, 23 of Baker and Juan Palmer, Jr., 3.
They are also charged with two counts of attempted first-degree murder of the woman’s four-year-old daughter, Lindsay Johnson, whose throat was slit, and her 7-month-old sister who was not injured but left in the bushes for dead at Bayou Park, where the suspects lured their victims.
Detectives say the killings were the result of a complicated love triangle gone terribly wrong. Smith, the former boyfriend of Palmer and the father of the 4-year-old but not the infant, was dating Matthews, Palmer’s second-cousin, at the time of the slayings, investigators said.
“They actually lured Jessica to the park along with her children, where the killings took place,” said East Baton Rouge Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman Casey Rayborn-Hicks at the time of the murders.
Johnson, whose throat was slit, was praised by deputies for taking care of her baby sister and carrying her out of the woods to the front of the park where they could be found by a BREC worker, said Sheriff Sid Gautreaux in 2008.
Smith’s vehicle and keys were found at the park and later led detectives to his whereabouts. However, it was the incredible story of the scared 4-year-old that detectives say was the key to the arrests of Smith and Matthews.
District Attorney Hillar Moore said his office intends to try Matthews first, and the death penalty will be sought against both her and Smith.
Smith and Matthews are on the court docket for April 2011.