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Opening statements began today in the vehicular homicide trial of a Lafourche Parish man accused of killing three Nicholls State students over Thanksgiving weekend in 2021.
Joey Paul Clement, 40, of Chackbay, is charged with three counts of homicide for the deaths of 19-year-old Lily Dufrene, and 18-year-olds Michaila Bowling and Hali Coss, all of Luling. The victims were heading home from Dufrene’s birthday dinner on the evening of Nov. 20, 2022, when, according to Louisiana State Police, Clement crashed his Ford F-150 into the victims’ SUV head-on after crossing the center line. Police say he appeared drunk and arrested him for his fourth offense of driving while intoxicated. Both vehicles were engulfed in flames. Clement was able to get out of his vehicle, and sustained minor injuries.
Judge F. Hugh Larose is presiding over the trial. The case is being prosecuted by Jason Chatagnier and Shaun George with the Lafourche Parish District Attorney’s Office. Clement is being represented by George Ledet and Tracy Schwab. Jury selection came to a close Monday afternoon.
Prosecutors say Dufrene, who was driving the SUV, had not been drinking. They also say Clement admitted to drinking, as well as having Adderall and Zoloft in his system.
Clement’s attorney refutes LSP’s original report and claims the victims’ SUV is the one that actually crossed into his client’s lane of travel. He says just because Clement had been drinking does not mean he should be found guilty of three counts of vehicular homicide.
If convicted on all three counts, Clement could face imprisonment of between five and 30 years for each count of vehicular homicide.