Convicted armed robbery suspect Jeffrey Broussard was sentenced Thursday on four counts of armed robbery and four counts of conspiracy to commit armed robbery.
Broussard was found guilty on the charges June 26 after a jury of his peers deliberated for 24 minutes.
His trial began June 25, with the accused taking the stand for himself. Broussard admitted to robbing two local businesses while armed with a pistol but told the jury he did it because he was afraid of Henry Bates, who made him do the crimes in order to pay for his drug debt.
"Henry Bates let me have cocaine on credit and then came to my house and told me if I didn't pay, he would burn my house down and kill me," Broussard testified.
Broussard said that Bates told him he had a job for him where he could make the money owed. He admitted to smoking crack on the way to the crime scenes as well as after committing the crimes but said he never put a bullet into the pistol he was carrying. He also admitted to receiving money from Bates out of the stolen amounts.
Broussard's attorney, Carl Cooper questioned him about his background and asked him how long he had been using cocaine, to which Broussard told him that he started using drugs at the age of 15 because his stepfather beat him. Broussard said that when he smoked crack, he would hear demons and see the devil and also would hallucinate. He admitted that he used cocaine every chance he had.
On cross-examination, Assistant District Attorney Steven Sylvester asked Broussard whose decision it was to smoke cocaine and if he cared what happened afterwards to which Broussard answered it was his decision and no, he did not care what happened.
The case was given to the jury for deliberation after Judge Scott Leehy explained the charges to them and instructed them of the various ways the verdict could be returned..
Bates pled guilty to simple robbery on Nov. 28, 2011 and received a seven year sentence.
"Justice was served with this verdict," Sylvester said. "The jury was able to see through Broussard's testimony and deem him competent. I am pleased with the results of this jury and their abilities."
Broussard received a 40 year sentence on each count of armed robbery at the AT&T store and a 20 year sentence for each count of conspiracy to commit armed robbery at that location. Those charges will run concurrent. He then received a 40 year sentence on each count of armed robbery at the Cash America and a 20 year sentence for each count of conspiracy to commit armed robbery at that location. This charges, too will run concurrent but, they will run consecutive, meaning he will serve a total of 80 years for the robbery and 40 years for the conspiracy.
Broussard was also picked out of a line-up in Ouachita Parish as a suspect in an armed robbery at the Verizon Store in Swartz.