Verdict reached in Laquarus Augustine’s 2nd-degree murder trial

A verdict has been reached in Laquarus Augustine’s 2nd-degree murder trial.
Published: May. 3, 2023 at 3:47 PM CDT|Updated: May. 3, 2023 at 6:16 PM CDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

ALEXANDRIA, La. (KALB) - A Rapides Parish judge has found Laquarus Augustine, 25, of Alexandria, guilty of second-degree murder in connection to the May 7, 2021, deadly shooting at Liberty Arsenal in Libuse.

That shooting, at the hands of co-defendant Ramonte Jackson, killed the store’s owner, David Paul. Paul’s brother, Michael, was shot multiple times but survived. Prosecutors said it was a result of an attempted robbery in which Jackson planned to steal a clip and a gun. He and Augustine had been in the store about 15 minutes or so earlier.

Prosecutors said while Augustine did not enter to shoot when the duo returned, he waited in the driver’s seat with the passenger door open and was the getaway driver and had knowledge of the attempted robbery plan.

Upon the verdict being delivered by Judge Greg Beard, Augustine showed no reaction. His sentencing is set for June 28. He is also charged with attempted armed robbery, but this trial was only for the second-degree murder charge.

“I can’t say enough to thank Sheriff Wood’s office,” said Rapides Parish District Attorney Phillip Terrell. “The detectives did a phenomenal job. I want to thank my staff and my investigators. Prosecutor Lea Hall did an absolutely tremendous job. One of the best prosecutors in the state and in the south. Kenneth Doggett assisted him, and they did a great job. They surprisingly waived a jury trial, which is a little bit unconventional. The judge absolutely made the correct decision and found the gentleman guilty of second-degree murder, which there is absolutely overwhelming evidence of that.”

Ahead of deliberations, Det. Andre Clark with the Rapides Parish Sheriff’s Office, who was the lead detective on the case, testified for much of the morning. He played two interviews that were conducted with Augustine following his arrest in Monroe by the U.S. Marshals.

In that interview, Augustine told detectives that he was “homeless” and stayed with different people. His girlfriend, who was a student in Monroe, helped support him financially.

He was asked if he knew why he was arrested.

“They picked me up because they believe I’m a suspect in what happened on the 7th of this month,” he answered.

Gradually, detectives got Augustine to reveal details about what happened the day of the shooting, although there were multiple inconsistencies with his statement.

Augustine said the morning started off with him at his cousin’s house and in need of cigarettes. He got in touch with Ramonte Jackson, who he called “Ray Ray,” a friend.

As we learned, they got the cigarettes from a corner store and ended up at Liberty Arsenal because Jackson wanted a clip. It was Augustine’s first time there.

“This is pretty cool,” Augustine remarked of the store, which was part gun store and part antique shop of sorts. “I’m like a kid in a candy store. This is some cool a** s***.”

Augustine said the owners, David and Michael, were nice. They struck up conversation.

At one point, though, he said Jackson approached him, wanting to know if he believed the owners were the only two in the store. Augustine said he “laughed it off.”

Jackson wanted the clip. But, it was too expensive. They left.

Augustine said the conversation continued in Jackson’s black Jeep Cherokee.

“I want some drill s***,” he said Jackson told him. “I can’t let this pass me up. That clip was too much. I don’t know, bruh.”

With Jackson at the wheel, they ended up in a nearby neighborhood in Pineville and said Jackson started moving ammunition around. Jackson headed back to the store. As we learned, Jackson told Augustine to get in the driver’s seat and keep the vehicle running and the passenger door open.

Jackson went into Liberty Arsenal under the guise of a malfunctioning clip. He was secretly carrying a pistol. Augustine believed he was going to try to get a clip and a gun.

“Next thing I you know, pop pop pop,” said Augustine. “I hear everything. I’m inside the car, but the door is open.”

“I’m looking and he comes back out. He’s got the gun in his hand. He steps back in,” said Augustine. “Pop pop pop.”

Augustine said he got out of the Jeep to look.

“He came running back,” he said. “He ran to the back seat, grabbed something and went back in.”

There were more shots and then Jackson ran back to the Jeep. They sped off.

“I’m like, bro, what is going on? He said, ‘I told you, bro. I want some drill s***,’” said Augustine of the conversation in the car.

They ended up at a house in Pineville. Augustine said he just wanted to get back to his cousin’s house. On the way, they called Cliron Price, another suspect who was arrested.

Initially, Augustine lied to detectives about the color of Price’s vehicle. Jackson changed at that Pineville house.

After getting picked up, they ended up back in Alexandria at Augustine’s cousin’s house. Augustine changed.

We learned that Jackson, Price and another suspect, Eric Dixon, ended up heading to Baton Rouge. Two days later, Augustine went with his girlfriend to Monroe.

After a brief break, detectives told Augustine they thought he was lying to them. They also noted that he cut his hair.

“You tried to conceal your identity,” one of the detectives said.

“No,” said Augustine. “I was already going to do that. That was just more of a reason.”

Later, Augustine told the detectives that he was “in the wrong place at the wrong time,” claiming the only “intent” he had was to get cigarettes.

In a second interview on May 17, 2021, Augustine told detectives that he was guilty of “accessory after the fact.” He read them the statute. He rehashed his recollection of that day. This time, the word “lick” was used when describing what Jackson said to him about his plans.

He also talked about a gun swap after the fact between Jackson and someone he called Quan, but was adamant that only he and Jackson were at Liberty Arsenal.

The state rested after this witness. The defense briefly called up three witnesses after making a failed attempt at a motion for an acquittal. Two of the three witnesses were recalled from the sheriff’s office. The third was Augustine’s brother, who ended up not testifying.

Deliberations began after closing arguments and lasted one hour before the verdict.

The case was prosecuted by Assistant DAs Lea Hall and Kenneth Doggett, Jr. Augustine was represented by public defenders James Word and Chris LaCour.

Click here to report a typo. Please provide the title of the article in your email.