DA: Suspected Louisiana Serial Killer to Plead Guilty

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A man who police say confessed to slaying 23 men in south Louisiana during a serial-killing spree that spanned several years is expected to plead guilty Tuesday to eight counts of first-degree murder, prosecutors said.

Ronald Dominique, 44, of Bayou Blue, was arrested in December 2006 at a homeless shelter in Houma. He allegedly confessed to raping nearly two dozen men, and then strangling or suffocating them.

In exchange for the plea, prosecutors said they will not seek the death penalty in connection with those eight cases.

District Attorney Joe Waitz Jr. said the decision to structure a plea deal was reached after consulting with the families of the eight victims.

For reasons ranging from opposition to the death penalty to a desire for more immediate closure than a death-penalty case would allow, the victims' family members agreed unanimously to accept a plan that could result in eight back-to-back life sentences.

"I am comfortable because of the unanimity of sentiment from the families, a sense that they were satisfied that they took part in the process," said Assistant District Attorney Mark Rhodes. "That unanimity gave us a feeling that we had given them the justice that they sought."

Dominique is scheduled to enter his plea Tuesday before state District Judge Randy Bethancourt. His attorney, Richard C. Goorley of the Capital Assistance Project of Louisiana, did not immediately return a phone call seeking comment.

Initially booked with two murders, Dominique eventually was indicted on nine murder counts. He ultimately confessed during interrogation to 23, authorities have said. It's unclear whether Dominique will be charged in the other killings.

An indictment alleges the victims — Kenneth Randolph, Michael Barnett, Leon Lirette, August Watkins, Kurt Cunningham, Alonzo Hogan, Chris Deville, Wayne Smith and Nicholas Pellegrin — were found in cane fields and near remote bayous.