Derrick Reaux was charged with obstruction of justice for dumping then 17-year-old Ryan Cassidy’s body into a ditch after finding him dead in his trailer the morning of March 31, 2003.
It was determined that Ryan overdosed that night.
Reaux pled not guilty to the charge.
In February of 2008, April Ho, who was with Reaux in the trailer, was sentenced to five years of hard labor for her participation in the obstruction of justice. Four of the five years were suspended. Part of her sentence is also to give speeches to schools and dedicate each speech to Ryan Cassidy.
Ryan’s mother, Susan Cassidy of Erath, was looking forward to the start of the three-day trial of Reaux earlier this month.
But there will be no trial, because Reaux changed his plea to guilty and agreed to a deal with the Vermilion Parish’s District Attorney’s Office.
Reaux, based on the plea agreement, could be sentenced to no more than 10 years, by Judge Durwood Conque in six weeks.
However, according to assistant district attorney Laurie Hulin, Conque does not have to agree to the plea agreement and could sentence him to as many 20 years.
Susan Cassidy wanted a trial and not a plea agreement.
“I am disappointed and hurt that Ryan’s worth was capped at 10 years without a jury making that decision,” Susan said. “Mr Reaux now has the opportunity to be sentenced between 0 and 10 years opposed to 0 to 20 years.
“In reality, this could have been much worse for Mr. Reaux.”
Hulin said she was pleased with a guilty plea because, “it is a solid conviction. It sticks.”
No matter the sentence Conque hands down, Reaux can not appeal it, Hulin said. If he would have gone to trial and been found guilty, Reaux could have appealed the outcome of the trial. His verdict may have been overturned by a higher court.
The parish district attorney’s office had a bad luck court experience with Troy Chambers. Chambers, from Lafayette, was the man who sold an Oxycontin pill to Nick Choplin of Broussard, who then sold it to Reaux and Cassidy.
Choplin pleaded guilty to negligent homicide but his sentence was suspended in order for him to testify against Chambers.
In 2005, Chambers was found guilty of manslaughter and sentenced to 20 years. He spent less than a year in jail and appealed to the state Supreme Court. His conviction was overturned by a 2-1 vote by the judges.
Despite Reaux seeing some jail time, “There will never be closure to Ryan’s death, as the truth has never surfaced,” said Susan. “Additionally, there now will never be closure to Ryan’s death legally, as Mr. Reaux’s attorney negotiated and dictated his fate opposed to potential members of our community.
“I am sorry, Ryan. I gave it my best shot and I went down fighting. No living being deserves to be thrown in a ditch.”