Posted: Aug 23, 2013 1:36 AM by Jim Hummel
Updated: Aug 23, 2013 1:49 AM
A KATC investigation has found that just days before a young woman was murdered in Rayne, an arrest warrant was issued for her step-father, who's now considered a person of interest in her death.
That man, Kerry Bertrand has not been charged with murder, but he is behind bars on five charges of violating a protective order and one count of molestation of a juvenile. Bertrand was taken into custody Wednesday in the home along Victor Road in Rayne, where 20 year old Skylar Credeur was found dead.
The paper trail of Bertrand's initial case raises several concerns, mainly why he was even out of jail at the time of Skylar Credeur's murder.
Bertrand was arrested in May on accusations of molesting a juvenile but he was released on August 12 after his attorney filed what's called a Writ of Habeas Corpus on his behalf. Habeas Corpus is a legal action calling for a speedy trial. In that hearing, Judge Edward Rubin ordered Bertrand be released from jail, because the state never filed a Bill of Information (formal charges) in the case.
So in three months since the molestation arrest, why wasn't a Bill of Information ever filed?
When asked if someone in his office dropped the ball, District Attorney Mike Harson replied, "No, not in my opinion."
Harson says his assistant district attorney handling the case, found out about the speedy trial hearing the very day of the hearing.
The DA also says his office wasn't given enough time to compile a Bill of Information, because the arresting agency, Louisiana State Police, didn't provide the case report in a timely manner. Harson says his office received that report on Thursday, August 8.
"Cases are built and it takes time," said Trooper Stephen Hammons. "In this particular case we were contacted on [August 7th] by the DA's office and asked to provide them with a report, which we actually provided to them the very next day."
August 13th, the day after her step-father was released from jail, Skylar Credeur filed a restraining order against Kerry Bertrand. Court records show Credeur alleged her step-father was abusive, and even threatened to kill her and hide her body in a swamp.
August 16, four days after he was released from jail, the state filed the Bill of Information against Bertrand on the initial charges of molestation of a juvenile. Harson says a warrant was also issued for Bertrand's arrest. Later that day, Harson says authorities located Bertrand at a motel in Acadia Parish but when they moved in to arrest him, he ran away.
Bertrand would evade authorities for five days until Wednesday, August 21st, the day Credeur was found dead in her home.
Harson tells KATC that Credeur's death was initially thought to be an accident, because she was found dead in the bathtub with a laptop. However, after authorities left the scene family members called them back because they heard noises coming from the attic. Harson says Bertrand was found hiding in the attic and was taken into custody.
The coronor has ruled drowning as the cause of death.
Should Bertrand's case have been handled differently?
Harson says there is a procedural problem that needs to be addressed. He says judicial protocol needs to change, and if his office knew about the hearing, things could've worked out differently.
"I want to see them be simply required to follow the law," said Harson. "The law says that motion is like any other motion, it should be filed and served upon us and a date set so we have an opportunity to present evidence if necessary to the court to show a justifiable reason for the delay in filing the charge."