Louisiana Record

Thursday, November 14, 2019

Louisiana Supreme Court clears Vernon Parish Asst DA of withholding evidence in murder trial

By Karen Kidd | Nov 1, 2017

General court 09

Leesville attorney and Vernon Parish assistant district attorney Ronald Kenneth Seastrunk has been cleared of all charges over his alleged failure to hand over evidence to the defense in a 2012 murder trial, according to an Oct. 18 Louisiana Supreme Court disciplinary proceeding.

The Louisiana State Bar's Office of Disciplinary Counsel (ODC) failed to meet its burden of proof in its case against Seastruck and all charges against him were dismissed, according to the high court's 27-page disciplinary proceeding. "There were others more culpable in this case than [Seastrunk] and I do not believe any discipline is appropriate," justice Jefferson Davis Hughes said in his concurrence, included in the disciplinary proceeding.

The ODC had recommended Seastrunk be publicly reprimanded.

Seastrunk was admitted to the bar in Louisiana on Jan. 16, 1992, according to his profile at the Louisiana State Bar's website. Seastrunk had no other discipline before the state bar, according to the disciplinary proceeding.

Charges against Seastrunk stemmed from his prosecution in the June 2010 murder of 21-year-old Christopher Hoffpauir. Seastrunk was assigned to the case, along with fellow assistant district attorney Scott Westerchil, by district attorney Asa Skinner, according to the proceeding.

In June 2011 Hoffpauir's wife, Kristyn Hoffpauir, pleaded guilty to manslaughter, conspiracy to commit manslaughter and obstruction of justice as part of a plea agreement and later was sentenced to 55 years hard labor, according to the disciplinary proceeding and media reports at the time.

After three trials, Kristyn Hoffpauir's boyfriend, Justin Sizemore, was convicted in the murder and was sentenced to life without parole. Sizemore's conviction was upheld on appeal.

It was during Sizemore's second trial that Skinner told a sheriff's detective to leave new information, that Kristyn Hoffpauir's mother found a revolver in her daughter's closet three years before the murder, out of his report, according to the disciplinary proceeding. Skinner also directed Westerchil not to turn over the report to Sizemore's attorney, according to the disciplinary proceeding.

Westerchil was elected judge in Louisiana's 30th Judicial District in October 2015.

In December 2015, a state bar hearing committee unanimously recommended that Seastrunk be publicly reprimanded. In December 2016, the state bar's office of disciplinary counsel also recommended Seastrunk be publicly reprimanded.

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Louisiana State Bar AssociationLouisiana Supreme Court