A man accused of killing a priest more than 18 years ago was sentenced to five years in prison Wednesday for intimidating a witness while serving time in the Lafourche Parish jail.
Derrick Odomes, 32, is accused of bludgeoning the Rev. Hunter Horgan to death in August 1992 inside the rectory of St. John's Episcopal Church in Thibodaux. Odomes was 14 at the time of the priest's death. He was arrested and charged with the killing in September 2007, though a judge ruled last year that he can't be sentenced if convicted because of his age at the time of Horgan's death.
Odomes was convicted of witness intimidation in late January following allegations that Odomes exposed himself to Haley Burkett, a Lafourche Parish jail guard, resulting in Odomes being charged with obscenity.
Burkett told the jury that Odomes threatened her in March 2010, months after she filed the obscenity charge, telling her he would come after her after he got out of jail.
“The victim was put in an untenable position and was unable to do her job by threat of violence,” said District Judge John Leblanc before handing down the five-year sentence.
Leblanc said his decision was the “only appropriate sentence” because of Odomes' “utter disregard for the circumstances” of his imprisonment.
When people speak of closure, I have to wonder if there is any such thing. That the authorities were able to determine from DNA evidence that Odomes is quite likely the alleged murderer of Fr Hunter Horgan all these many years ago, was a relief to the members of the church and to the entire community. But there is certainly no closure, at least so far as I am concerned. I'm relieved that an alleged murderer is off the streets, but the news keeps coming in. There will be a trial for the murder for which the alleged killer cannot be sentenced. There will very likely be appeal after appeal before the case comes to a resolution.
While the judge's ruling rules out prison time on the murder charge, Odomes has five prior felony convictions and two outstanding felony charges — theft and obscenity — that could land him in jail for decades.
So we wait. And in the meantime, I pray for all who love Fr Horgan, and I pray for Derrick Odomes, and I pray that justice will be done.