A day after Brandon Scott Lavergne led investigators to the body of Mickey Shunick in exchange for his life, the 33-year-old registered sex offender and convicted killer of two Acadiana women told a criminal psychologist that he was subjected to “chronic childhood physical abuse” by his adoptive father and “multiple instances of molestation by a teenaged female babysitter” as a toddler.
According to a psychological report prepared by Lafayette criminal psychologist Larry Benoit and obtained by IND Monthly, Lavergne underwent a psychological evaluation on Aug. 8, one day after Assistant District Attorney Keith Stutes secured a plea agreement with Lavergne that spared his life in exchange for pleading guilty to two counts of first-degree murder and information on the deaths of Shunick, a 21-year-old UL student, and 35-year-old Lisa Pate.
The court document states that the evaluation was done to determine whether Lavergne was mentally capable of proceeding with the plea agreement.
Benoit says in the evaluation that Lavergne was treated for anger and depression by the time he was 15 years old, which led to a 30-day inpatient stay at Central State Hospital in 1995. Lavergne also reportedly received outpatient counseling in 2011 “for a few months,” according to the report.
“He reports occasional use of alcohol but says he was prone to binging when he drank,” Benoit says in the report. “He admits to a history of aggressive behavior. Family history is positive for substance abuse and psychiatric treatment. He was adopted at birth and his adoptive father suffered from paranoid schizophrenia.”
Lavergne, who was interviewed alone and described as “cooperative but very serious,” admitted to having suicidal thoughts as recently as May, the same month he kidnapped and later killed Shunick the night she disappeared while riding her bicycle home from a friend’s house. He told Benoit, however, that he has never attempted suicide.
“He reported a history of memory lapses during periods of extreme emotion,” the report states. “He admitted to a history of homicidal ideation on multiple occasions. He reported chronic childhood physical abuse by his adoptive father and multiple instances of molestation by a teenaged female babysitter at age three or four.”
Mental tests performed on Lavergne conclude that he maintains a “high average range of intellectual functioning.”
“He described his own behavior and the behavior of others leading up to and following the alleged crimes in considerable detail, entirely consistent with the documentation describing the incidents in question and his arrests. He seemed to have no problems comparing his own situation with other individuals accused of similar crimes,” Benoit says in the report. “He had a clear appreciation of the seriousness of his own legal situation and the possible outcomes of the proceedings. His factual understanding of the legal process is intact. There was no overt evidence of delusional thinking, preoccupations, obsessions, ideas of reference or formal thought disorder.”
Although Benoit’s report concludes that Lavergne had sufficient mental capacity to move forward with the plea agreement, the Acadia Parish native who was living in rural St. Landry Parish at the time of his July 5 arrest displayed troubling characteristics that suggest an “extroverted, over active, impulsive and self-indulgent individual.”
“Patients with similar profiles are usually seen as hostile and superficial. Fluctuating morals and poor conscience development are common,” the evaluation states. “Quite impulsive, they show poor judgment, often acting without considering the consequences of their acts, and they fail to learn from experience. They harbor intense feelings of anger and hostility, and these feelings get expressed in occasional emotional outbursts. Similar patients typically show flagrant excesses in their search for pleasure and self-stimulation. Suspiciousness, distrust, brooding, and resentment may be characteristic.”
On Aug. 17, Lavergne pleaded guilty in open court
to the May 19 and 1999 killings of Shunick and Pate, respectively. He began serving a life sentence at the Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola just hours after the conclusion of the court hearing, sparing the victims’ families from the pain of a years-long death penalty trial.
But recent statements from law enforcement and other officials suggest Lavergne may be tied to other crimes, as City-Parish Attorney Michael Hebert told The Daily Advertiser in an Aug. 27 report
that documents and other evidence in the Shunick case are “part of continued investigative efforts that are reasonably anticipated to lead to future criminal litigation:”
“The documentary and investigative evidence contain matters that are still being investigated by both the Lafayette Police Department, as well as multiple other jurisdictions and agencies,” Hebert wrote in response to a public records request by The Daily Advertiser.
On Aug. 20, The Daily Advertiser submitted a public records request to Lafayette Police Chief Jim Craft and Hebert seeking the opportunity to review various statements, documents and evidence gathered during the three-month investigation that followed Shunick’s disappearance.
Hebert responded that releasing the requested information “could severely jeopargize ongoing criminal investigations.”