Trial preparation begins for man accused of killing, burning Covington priest and church worker

Published: Jun. 1, 2023 at 3:07 PM CDT
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COVINGTON, La. (WVUE) - The courthouse was packed on Thursday (June 1) as the man accused of killing a Covington priest and his longtime assistant returned to court for trial preparations.

Antonio Tyson faces two counts of first-degree murder in the killings of Father Otis Young and Ruth Prats, a longtime church employee, near St. Peter Church during the Thanksgiving weekend. Officials said the victims were found “burned beyond recognition” in downtown Covington.

Police say the victims were watching a Saints game when Tyson entered their home and killed them with blunt force before burning their bodies.

49-year-old Antonio Tyson was indicted on two counts of first-degree murder and one count of...
49-year-old Antonio Tyson was indicted on two counts of first-degree murder and one count of obstruction of justice for a double homicide in Covington on Nov. 27, 2022.(St. Tammany Parish Sheriff's Office)

Tyson was indicted in March and pleaded not guilty.

Tyson’s family members, who refrained from making any comments, sat alongside St. Peter Church members and friends of the victims who vowed to attend the court hearings.

The defense has been collecting witness statements and police reports as they brace for a case that could potentially result in a death sentence.

“In this case, they produce a great deal of information, but there’s a lot that they haven’t produced,” said Defense Attorney Kerry Cuccia from the Capital Defense Project.

Defense attorneys are waiting for forensic and DNA evidence needed for their trial preparations.

Laura Burgess says she is baffled by the killings of two people who devoted their lives to religion.

“They were so spiritual and gave everybody a lift,” Burgess said.

Judge August Hand has given both sides until July 13 to turn over more pre-discovery evidence.

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