Judge revokes bond for no-show Victors

Published 12:00 am Saturday, August 20, 2011



EDGARD – With the defendants absent from court for the third straight day, District Court Judge Mary Hotard Becnel ruled Wednesday the second-degree murder trial for Errol and Tonya Victor be postponed while authorities continue to search for the couple.

The Victors are accused of killing 8-year-old M.L. Lloyd III, Tonya Victor’s son and Errol Victor’s stepson. The boy was pronounced dead after the Victors brought him to the River Parishes Hospital emergency room.

Similar to what happened Tuesday, potential jurors were sent home for the second day in a row Wednesday. The jury pool that appeared Tuesday were scheduled to return to the St. John the Baptist Parish Courthouse in Edgard Thursday but were instead informed by a phone recording from the Clerk of Court’s Office that they did not have to report.

Becnel issued a bench warrant for the arrest of Errol and Tonya Victor on Monday after they failed to appear in court for a status conference prior to the trial. Authorities have been unable to locate the couple since.

As part of the bench warrant, Becnel on Monday had set a $1 million bond for the Victors, but in light of the couple’s continued flight, the judge instead ordered that the Victors be held without bond throughout the duration of the trial once they are captured.

Julie Cullen, who is prosecuting the case for the state Attorney General’s Office, said it is the state’s position that the Victors “have intentionally failed to appear in court” and that the bond revocation was warranted in this case.

Lionel Lon Burns, the Victors’ attorney, objected to Becnel’s decision, as well as to Becnel’s use of the term “flight” to describe his clients’ absences.

“No one (from law enforcement) has appeared in court to tell us they fled,” Burns said. “It indicates they don’t plan to return. No one has heard from them, not even their children. This could simply be a misunderstanding.”

Relatives of the Victors have indicated that the couple may have left because they did not feel they could get a fair trial with their current attorney, who they maintained was unprepared to go to trial. The Victors attempted to fire Burns last week and also filed a lawsuit in federal court contending Burns refused to perform his duties as their attorney and properly prepare for trial.

The Victors are seeking a temporary restraining order and permanent injunction to prohibit him from further representing them.

Burns, meanwhile, has also filed motions to withdraw from the case, but Becnel has denied those requests. When Burns was hired by the Victors again in April after previously being fired, the Victors have changed representation seven times, including one brief point during which Errol Victor elected to represent himself. Since then, Becnel warned both the Victors and Burns that “once you’re enrolled in this case, you’re stuck with it. I’m not letting you out,” according to court records.

Becnel said Wednesday once the Victors are apprehended, she will appoint Burns as their counsel at their initial hearing. She also set a September court date to hear motions. One of those motions could include the enrollment of New Iberia attorney Alicia Johnson Butler. Butler was present in court Tuesday but was not allowed to enroll at that time because, with Tonya and Errol Victor Sr. missing, she had no clients to represent.