|Kerry Wayne Bertrand's Aug. 21 mugshot bearing what appears to be fingernail scratches on the right side of his face.|
Kerry Wayne Bertrand was charged Monday for the alleged killing of his 20-year-old stepdaughter, Skylar Lee Credeur, a UL Lafayette chemistry major found dead in the bathtub of her family home in August. Bertrand had been in jail since August, arrested for violating protective orders and molestation.
During The IND’s recent investigation into Credeur’s death, which revealed a number of glaring and arguably preventable mistakes committed by law enforcement officials, 15th Judicial District Attorney Mike Harson attributed the lack of charges against Bertrand — their sole person-of-interest — to a pending report from the Acadiana Crime Lab. Read the November cover story “System Failure” here.
Because she was found with her laptop floating above her body in the bathtub, law enforcement officials originally treated Credeur's death as accidental, or a possible suicide, family members tell The IND. That was before family members found Bertrand hiding in the attic of the family's home, a discovery that happened as Acadia Parish Sheriff's detectives and deputies were leaving the scene. According to our sources, it was Credeur's fingernails that were submitted to the crime lab, which was prompted by the scratch marks seen on Bertrand's face as he was removed from the attic by the two deputies who had remained on scene that day.
It's been nearly three months, and the crime lab’s report remains pending; for reasons unknown, Harson, who in October said charges would not be filed until the report's conclusion, on Monday filed a bill of information charging Bertrand with manslaughter.
What’s unclear is why Harson, who did not respond to our emailed questions before this story’s posting, decided to charge Bertrand.
If the manslaughter charge sticks and Bertrand is convicted, he will face a maximum sentence of 40 years. Acadia Parish Sheriff’s spokeswoman Maxine Trahan, however, tells The IND that Harson’s office will convene a grand jury later this month and possibly upgrade that charge to first- or second-degree murder.
Bertrand has been held in the Acadia Parish Jail since Aug. 21 on a slew of charges, including six counts of violating protective orders and one count of molestation.
With the filing of Monday’s bill of information, Bertrand’s bail jumped from $450,000 to $1 million.