(LAFAYETTE, La.) — The man accused of killing Louisiana student Mickey Shunick pleaded guilty Friday to her murder and the killing of another woman in exchange for life in prison without parole. The court document explaining the plea deal also reveals a blow-by-blow account of Shunick’s desperate fight for her life the night she died.
The document details how Shunick fought back against her attacker by spraying him with Mace, stabbing him several times and fighting relentlessly until he ultimately shot her in the head. The court filing was posted online Friday by ABC News’ Lafayette affiliate KATC-TV.
Shunick, 22, was a senior at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette when she vanished May 19. She was last seen about 2 a.m. riding her bike from the home of her friend Brettly Wilson.
Brandon Scott Lavergne, a registered sex offender, was arrested and charged with Shunick’s murder and aggravated kidnapping last month. He initially pleaded not guilty and would have faced the death penalty had he not agreed to the deal.
On the night Shunick disappeared, Lavergne followed her bike in his truck, according to a statement in support of his plea filed in Louisiana’s 15th Judicial District Court Friday. He had been driving around Lafayette, La., using his cellphone to call escort services, the document said. Surveillance footage of the white pickup truck would eventually lead police to Lavergne.
Lavergne intentionally hit Shunick’s bike and insisted that she enter his truck, the document said. He put her bike in the bed of his truck and the filing said that Lavergne was in possession of a knife and a semi-automatic handgun, which he kept in his car.
When Shunick attempted to grab her cellphone to call for help, Lavergne threatened her with his knife.
“Micky sprayed mace into the Defendant’s face,” the court document said. “Micky fought off the Defendant who succeeded in wrestling the mace from Mickey. Micky grabbed the Defendant’s knife and proceeded to stab the Defendant several times in what would later be called life threatening wounds.”
The court document misspells Shunick’s first name throughout.
Lavergne tried to grab the knife from Shunick, which caused him to cut tendons in his hands.
“Micky fought with the much larger and stronger Defendant who succeeded in taking the knife from Micky,” the filing said. “The Defendant then stabbed Micky at least 4 times and she fell over. Micky lay motionless. The Defendant felt for a pulse but felt nothing.”
Lavergne then drove Shunick’s motionless body to a secluded area 40 minutes away, where he planned to dump her body and escape, according to the filing.
“Suddenly, Micky jumped up, with the Defendant’s knife she had regained possession of and lunged at the Defendant stabbing him again in the chest,” the court document said. “The Defendant pulled his semi-automatic handgun, which he had armed himself with, and shot Micky in the head, killing her instantly.”
With his additional injuries, Lavergne did not leave Shunick’s body and instead drove to his home to nurse his wounds, with her still in the passenger seat. At home, he also destroyed the clothes he was wearing.
He then drove to the area of an old cemetery in Evangeline Parish to bury the body, but was unable to dig because of his wounds, according to the filing.
“Instead, he left Micky’s body in a nearby tree line, covering her body with branches and debris,” the court document said.
Lavergne returned home to clean up more and formulate his plan. He destroyed more evidence and arranged to stay with an out-of-town friend. He dumped Shunick’s bike in a river beneath a bridge where it was later discovered and became a key piece of the investigation.
He also disposed of the handgun and the knife, the document said.
When Lavergne returned to Lafayette from his friend’s home in New Orleans the next day, he returned to where he had left Shunick’s body and buried Shunick’s body in a heavily wooded area near the old cemetery.
The body was found there in August 2012 and positively identified by authorities.
“The Defendant, and his counsel, affirm and agree that this factual basis is indeed true, correct, and accurate,” the end of the document reads. “The Defendant affirms and agrees that he is, in fact, guilty of the First Degree Murder of Michaela Shunick.”
The document is signed by the district attorney, Lavergne and his attorneys.
The Shunick family did not respond to request for comment today, but released a statement after today’s court hearing, according to The Advocate newspaper.
“My sister, Mickey Shunick, was a warrior,” Shunick’s sister, Charlene “Charlie” Shunick, wrote. “If it wasn’t for her, our community never would have been able to bring down a dangerous man that harmed multiple people.”
Shunick’s mother, Nancy Anne Rowe, wrote, “She refuses to be a victim. My courageous child faced down a monster. Now I think I can face monsters too. And so can you.”
In the document, Lavergne also pleaded guilty to killing Lisa Pate in June 1999. He met her in Lafayette, La., and “enticed and persuaded” her to go with him to a place outside of the town. They were together for several days, but when Pate said she wanted to leave, he refused to let her.
Authorities believe Lavergne killed her by putting a plastic bag over her head, the document said. Her body was found in September 1999.
Prosecutor Keith Stutes was not available for comment Friday afternoon but said in court Friday that the plea agreement required Lavergne to tell investigators where Shunick’s body was and to re-enact the events surrounding the killings, according to The Advocate.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
Selena Larson, CNN
Megan Shauri, FamilyShare
Billy Hallowell, Deseret News
Billy Hallowell, Deseret News