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Defense moves to continue death penalty trial set for Sept. due to COVID-19

Trial for Matthew Sonnier set to begin Sept. 13 in Rapides Parish
Matthew Sonnier
Matthew Sonnier(Rapides Parish Jail)
Published: Aug. 20, 2021 at 11:31 AM CDT
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ALEXANDRIA, La. (KALB) - The capital defense attorneys who represent Matthew Sonnier, 33 of Pineville, in his death penalty trial scheduled to begin Sept. 13 in Rapides Parish, are asking Judge Chris Hazel to continue the trial due to rising COVID-19 cases in the parish.

Sonnier is charged with three counts of first degree murder for the Oct. 18, 2017 deaths of Jeremy Norris, 28, Kendrick Horn, 33, and Latish White, 42. He also faces two counts of obstruction of justice from a separate indictment related to the case. If convicted on the murder charges, he faces the death penalty.

White’s body was found on Melrose Street in Pineville. She had been stabbed multiple times and thrown out from a car. The bodies of Norris and Horn were found several hours later wrapped in a pool liner burning in ditch on Old Boyce Road, just outside of Alexandria.

Sonnier’s sister, Ebony Sonnier, is also charged in the case.

On Wednesday, Sonnier’s attorney, Kyla Blanchard-Romanach of the Baton Rouge Capital Conflict Office, filed a motion to continue the trial date.

Blanchard-Romanach goes on to argue that Rapides Parish is “currently averaging 184 cases of coronavirus per day - the highest number of cases since the start of the pandemic.” She also writes that the Court “would not be alone in postponing a jury trial in the face of this unprecedented surge of the Delta variant.”

A date to hear the motion has not been set yet. The case is being prosecuted by Special Assistant District Attorney Hugo Holland and Special Assistant District Attorney Lea Hall.

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