Louisiana gay man is suspect in murders of 23 men over 8 years
HOUMA, La. A suspect in the murders of 23 south Louisiana men pleaded not guilty Tuesday, Jan. 16, to nine counts of first-degree murder.
Ronald Dominique was rolled into the courtroom in a wheelchair. He mumbled “not guilty” to each count as his sister and other relatives looked on along with family members of some of his alleged victims.
The nine charges, which carry a possible death sentence, stem from the rape and murders of nine men between 2002 and 2005 in Terrebonne Parish, La.
Dominique, 42, has confessed to 23 murders of men from 1997 to 2005, authorities said. Victims were found in ditches, sugar cane fields and other remote locations in southeastern Louisiana.
Among the onlookers in the courtroom Tuesday was Angela Smith, mother of victim Wayne Smith.
“I wish I could have talked to him. I want to ask him “‘Before you killed my child, what were his last words?'” Smith said.
“I couldn’t even see him. That’s how bad a shape he was in when they sent him back to me,” Smith said of her son. “I just buried a box.”
Dominique, who has a heart condition, was arrested at a homeless shelter in December. Initially booked with two murders, he eventually was indicted on nine and, during interrogation, confessed to 23, authorities have said.
Authorities have said he allegedly enticed victims with offers of money for gay sex, or in some cases by offering his “wife” for heterosexual encounters and showing the men a picture of a woman. Dominique is not married.
In addition to the nine charges in Terrebonne, Dominique also has been arrested in connection with two bodies found in the New Orleans suburb of Jefferson Parish. However, it is uncertain when or if he will be prosecuted there.
Earlier this month, a prosecutor said there is too little evidence in Jefferson Parish to hold Dominique for those crimes.
Although Jefferson Parish Sheriff Harry Lee has said DNA evidence linked Dominique to both bodies, Dominique has said he killed them in New Orleans and dumped the bodies in Jefferson Parish, according to Capt. James Gallagher, a Kenner Police Department spokesman.
On Jan. 8, a prosecutor told a judge there was no probable cause to hold Dominique in those killings, but charges in Jefferson Parish are possible in other cases, which he did not identify.
Bodies believed connected to Dominique were found in Jefferson, St. Charles, Terrebonne, Lafourche, Iberville and Assumption parishes.
Terrebonne District Attorney Joe Waitz said he is trying to schedule meetings with prosecutors in other districts to discuss how to proceed with other possible cases.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition January 19, 2007