Brandon Scott Lavergne of Swords in St. Landry Parish admitted in court Friday that he kidnapped and killed Mickey Shunick in the early morning hours of May 19, stabbing and shooting the 21-year-old University of Louisiana at Lafayette student after she fought him for -- and stabbed him with -- his own knife.
"My courageous child faced down a monster," Shunick's mother, Nancy Rowe, wrote in a statement read Friday by family spokeswoman Kristen Kordecki.
Lavergne was arrested July 5 in connection with Shunick's disappearance after a caller linked his white truck, found burned in Texas, to one seen following Shunick on surveillance video taken the morning of her disappearance. A grand jury indicted him July 18 for first-degree murder.
On Aug. 7, Lavergne and prosecutors secretly signed an agreement in which he admitted to the first-degree murder of Shunick and Lisa Ann Pate, a Lafayette woman who disappeared in June 1999.
As part of the deal, Lavergne showed investigators on an aerial map where to find Shunick's body, which he had buried behind a cemetery in Evangeline Parish, lead prosecutor Keith Stutes said.
Also on Aug. 7, Lavergne re-enacted for investigators the events of May 19 when he purposely struck Shunick with his white Chevrolet Z71 pickup truck as she rode her bike in Lafayette, Stutes said.
Armed with a semi-automatic handgun and knife, Lavergne confronted Shunick and got her into his truck, placing her damaged bike in the bed of the truck, Stutes said.
While Lavergne drove away , Stutes said, "Mickey grabbed her cellphone to call for help."
When Lavergne threatened Shunick with the knife, she sprayed pepper spray in his face, Stutes said. She grabbed the knife and stabbed Lavergne several times. As Lavergne tried to grab the knife from Shunick, she cut tendons in his hand.
Lavergne got the knife back and stabbed the Shunick at least four times. She slumped over and Lavergne did not feel a pulse, Stutes said.
Lavergne then drove to an Acadia Parish sugar cane field to dump her body. When he stopped the truck, "suddenly Mickey jumped up, with the defendant's knife she had regained possession of," and lunged at him, stabbing him again in the chest, Stutes said.
In response, Lavergne shot her in the head, killing her instantly, he said.
Lavergne drove to his home in St. Landry Parish, with Shunick's body in the passenger seat, and tried to nurse his wounds. Later, he drove to a cemetery off La. 10 in Evangeline Parish to bury her, but his injuries prevented him from digging a grave. He left the body there covered with branches and debris, he said.
He returned home to clean his wounds and destroy evidence, then drove to New Orleans to visit a friend. On the way, he dumped Shunick's bike at Whiskey Bay, off Interstate 10 between Lafayette and Baton Rouge. Once in New Orleans, Lavergne went to a hospital for treatment and disposed of the gun and knife.
Lavergne returned home on May 20 and buried Shunick's body in a hole he dug in a wooded area behind the cemetery.
In the court hearing Friday, in front of Shunick's parents and Pate's family, Lavergne admitted to committing both murders and agreed to a sentence of life in prison at hard labor without parole.
Had he sought a trial and been convicted, Lavergne could have faced the death penalty
After the hearing was over, Rowe said her daughter "went down swinging with everything she could."
She added, "Maybe he'll wake up screaming every night, seeing her little hand with a knife plunging into his chest."
Clay Lejeune, one of Lavergne's defense attorneys, said Lavergne has wanted to come clean about Shunick since before his arraignment.
"He showed deep concern for the Shunicks and wanted closure for them," Lejeune said.
Lavergne actually wrote a statement to the Shunick family, Lejeune said.
Mickey Shunick's father, Tom, had the statement in his pants pocket Friday morning but had not read it. He said he didn't want to read it.
"I don't know if there will ever be complete closure on this thing, but I feel relief after today," he said.