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|Bonds set at $10 million each for two accused in Larto murders|
Seventh Judicial District Judge Leo Boothe set the bonds for two accused murderers at $10 million each during court proceedings in Harrisonburg this morning.
Both defendants -- 41-year-old Lee John Ponthieux Jr. and 57-year-old Debbie Adams -- have each been charged with three counts of first degree murder in the deaths of Annie Bell Adams, 76; her daughter, Edris Eileen Ellard, 51; and her daughter's estranged husband, 45-year-old John "Bozo" Ellard.
The murders occurred early Monday morning on the property of Annie Bell Adams at Larto in Catahoula Parish.
Debbie Adams -- accused in the murders -- was the daughter of victim Annie Bell Adams and the sister of victim Edris Eileen Ellard. Debbie Adams was originally charged with obstruction of justice in the case.
Both of the female victims were stabbed in the neck, according to Catahoula Parish Sheriff James Glen Kelly, while the male victim was shot in the head. Both the shotgun and a blood-stained "large folding pocket knife" were recovered at the crime scene, he said.
Dressed in civilian clothes, Debbie Adams testified in court that she was employed by her mother as a sitter, earning about $200 per week.
"I was taking care of her," she said.
Kelly said Debbie Adams and her mother "had a strained relationship." He said the daughter had been living with her mother for the past three years.
He said Ponthieux confessed to committing the murders, while Debbie Adams was charged with three counts of first degree murder as well because she "encouraged it, made it happen and did nothing to prevent it."
Kelly said Adams was present during the murder of her mother.
Dressed in an orange prison jumpsuit, Ponthieux said in court he was employed at a pecan orchard earning about $100 per day.
He said he had been treated well by authorities, but was uncertain of what day it was.
"I don't know," he said, "I was arrested Monday or Tuesday."
Catahoula Parish Sheriff's Office Investigator Tony Edwards said in court that Ponthieux has a lengthy arrest record dating back to 1988 and had been booked in Pineville, Rapides Parish and Thibodeaux on a variety of charges, including battery on a juvenile, burglary of an inhabited dwelling, simple burglary, theft of a truck, simple criminal damage to property, indecent behavior with a juvenile, illegal use of a weapon and resisting an officer.
Debbie Adams' arrest record, he said, dates back to a theft charge in Concordia Parish in 1999 and a drug charge in 2000. He said she was also charged with possession of marijuana in Marksville in 2008, reckless driving and intoxication in 2009 and booked in Catahoula Parish in 2012 for possession of Schedule 4 drugs and careless operation.
Edwards said the victims and suspects were at the home of Annie Bell Adams on Moody Road at Larto on the night of the murders when an argument began. He said "they had been drinking."
Kelly said after the murders Ponthieux fled on a motorcycle that he later wrecked. Afterward, Ponthieux returned to the scene, "took some items from the house, including the shotgun, gathered some supplies and went into the woods."
More than 24 hours after the murders, deputies found Ponthieux "in the woods, laying down and trying to hide," Kelly said. He said one deputy heard a twig break and "shined his light and there he was, just a few feet away."
More than 40 police officers were involved in the search, Kelly said.
The judge appointed indigent defenders for the defendants, but noted that since first degree murder charges carried the death penalty that each would later be appointed "certified" death penalty lawyers.
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