Man found guilty of killing 3 Nicholls students in drunken crash

Published: Aug. 24, 2023 at 11:20 AM CDT|Updated: Aug. 24, 2023 at 5:08 PM CDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

LAFOURCHE PARISH, La. (WVUE) - A Lafourche Parish jury on Thursday (Aug. 24) found 39-year-old Joey Clement guilty of killing three Nicholls State University students in a drunk driving crash.

Clement was found guilty of two counts of vehicular homicide and one lesser count of negligent homicide.

Trial began with opening statements on Mon., Aug. 21. Jurors deliberated for roughly five hours after closing arguments Thursday morning and returned the verdict just after 5 p.m.

The victims, identified as Hali Coss and Michaela Bowling, both 18 years old and 19-year-old Lil Dufrene, were killed over Thanksgiving weekend in 2021.

The three friends, who were recent graduates of Hahnville High School and had just embarked on their freshman year at Nicholls State University to pursue studies in health sciences and nursing, were on their way home from a birthday dinner when the fatal crash occurred.

The prosecution’s case hinged on Louisiana State Police’s assertion that Clement, at the time with a blood-alcohol level of 0.16 percent, well above the legal limit, crashed his Ford F-150 head-on into the victims’ SUV after crossing the center line. Authorities arrested Clement on his fourth offense of driving while intoxicated, and he sustained minor injuries in the crash. Both vehicles were engulfed in flames. The teens were pronounced dead at the scene.

Clement’s defense attorney disputed the initial police report and contended that it was the victims’ SUV that crossed into Clement’s lane. The defense also argued that Clement’s consumption of alcohol does not automatically warrant a guilty verdict on the charges of three counts of vehicular homicide.

Trial underway for man accused of killing 3 girls while driving drunk in Lafourche
Trial underway for man accused of killing 3 girls while driving drunk in Lafourche(Fox 8)

The courtroom was filled not only with legal professionals but also with family members and friends of the victims who are seeking justice for their loved ones.

Prosecutors maintained that Lily Dufrene, the driver of the SUV, had not consumed alcohol. They assert that Clement admitted to having consumed multiple alcoholic beverages along with prescription medications Adderall and Zoloft prior to the accident.

Clement faces up to 50 years in prison. A sentencing hearing will be held on Oct. 3.

See a spelling or grammar error in our story? Click Here to report it. Please include the headline.

Subscribe to the Fox 8 YouTube channel.