No jail time for Trehan

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, September 17, 2002


LULING – A 21-year-old Des Allemands man charged with the near-fatal beating in Aug. 2001 of a Luling teen-ager recently entered a guilty plea to aggravated battery, less than two weeks before he was due to go on trial.

Shawn Trehan faces no jail time, if he behaves himself for the next five years, the trial judge ruled. He was originally charged with the attempted murder of Justin Dufrene, 18 at the time, but when he was released on posting $10,000 bond on May 31, the charge was reduced by Judge Emile St. Pierre to aggravated battery after a closer examination of the case.

In exchange for the guilty plea, Trehan received a 10-year suspended sentence, along with five years of supervised probation. The 10 years was suspended under the following conditions: 300 days in parish prison credited for time served, $37,000 paid to the victim, with $7,000 up front and $500 per month until the debt is paid off, participate in an anger-management class, a public apology to the victim (which he immediately did in open court), ordered to stay away from the victim and the victim’s family and a visit to Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola.

Dufrene’s uncle and guardian, Grant Dufrene, read a statement in open court on behalf of Justin, which said in part: “I am accepting this deal today because we have to work within the law and do what is best for Justin. I was not looking forward to trial and putting my family through this all over again. All we want is to get this behind us and live our lives in peace.”

Justin’s aunt, Liz Dufrene, said: “We’re very happy about it; very pleased. We really wanted to see (Trehan) do the right thing.”

Prosecuting the case were assistant district attorneys Howat Peters and Juan Byrd. Trehan was defended by Maria Chaisson.

Dufrene, now 19, started college this fall, but he is unable to recall that night’s events.

According to Capt. Patrick Yoes of the St. Charles Parish Sheriff’s Office, Dufrene tried to leave a party in the 500 block of Monsanto Avenue, just before midnight on Aug. 4, 2001.

Weeks earlier, Peters alleged, Trehan called someone’s cell phone at a party where Dufrene was in attendance. As the phone was being passed to the owner, Trehan supposedly overheard someone, who he believed was Dufrene, call him a derogatory name.

At the Monsanto Avenue party Trehan reportedly told Dufrene, as he kicked him repeatedly in the head, to “call me that now.” Witnesses, Yoes said, told police they saw Trehan shouting and trying to provoke a fight with Dufrene, finally punch him and caused him to fall. When Dufrene struck the pavement, the back of his head hit the street. While on the ground, witnesses said Trehan kicked Dufrene several times on the face and body.

Dufrene sustained a skull fracture and brain trauma. At the hospital, he was placed in a coma to reduce swelling in his skull.

“I’ve found my short-term memory is not as good,” Dufrene said. “I’m not as quick as I used to be.”

Prior to the incident, Dufrene was a wiry 180 pounds stretched over a 6-feet-1-inch frame. During his hospital stay, he lost more than 50 pounds. Currently, he weighs around 230 pounds.

When asked about the plea agreement, District Attorney Harry Morel Jr. said: “We offered this plea in order to spare the victim and his family from having to relive a very traumatic ordeal. By allowing Trehan to plead guilty, we are able to gather monetary reparations, which we hope will help defray the cost of his college education.”

Dufrene, an honor student and 2001 graduate of Hahnville High School, was enrolled at the University of Louisiana-Lafayette on a TOPS Scholarship at the time of the incident.

He plans now to open either a health club or a Cajun restaurant, possibly in Colorado, after he completes his business management degree.