Reserve couple goes on tirade during sentencing in death of son
EDGARD, LA (WVUE) - A Reserve couple screamed and hurled insults in court as they were being sentenced Monday in the death of their 8-year-old son.
"It's wrong! Gotta put the judge in jail, the prosecutor in jail, the lead detective," said Errol Victor as he was led out of the courthouse following the proceedings. He was as defiant outside as he had been inside the building.
A jury convicted Victor and his wife, Tonya Otkins Victor, last month in the death of Tonya Victor's biological son, M.L. Lloyd III.
"Having defendants act out in court is certainly something that's not unheard of, a lot of the individuals going through the criminal justice system are deeply troubled," said attorney and Loyola Law School professor Dane Ciolino.
Judge Mary Hotard Becnel gave Errol Victor the mandatory life sentence that Louisiana law requires for anyone convicted of second-degree murder. His wife was found guilty of manslaughter.
Errol Victor repeatedly interrupted the proceedings with comments and insulting words aimed at the judge and the female prosecutor, and he verbally discounted the sentencing that was about to take place.
"We are not slaves, we don't belong to the state of Louisiana. Our child doesn't belong to the state of Louisiana. He was our property. He belonged to us," he said at one point.
"It's an absolutely absurd proposition from the husband, but from his standpoint it really didn't matter," Ciolino said of Errol Victor's rant.
Immediately after Errol Victor was sentenced and taken out of the courtroom, his wife was brought in and the courtroom drama intensified as she cried and yelled almost incessantly.
"My husband is not an animal, I'm not an animal...we are hurt, we have a loss," she said.
Becnel had wide discretion in sentencing Tonya Victor. She could have given her between 10 and 40 years for the manslaughter conviction.
The judge said the couple showed no remorse.
"It was apparent to most of us from the evidence, as well as your behavior throughout the court process, that you were under some type of control by your husband at the time of the crime, and you appear to continue to be under some control or influence of your husband," said the judge to Tonya Victor.
Victor became more out of control as the judge said she failed her son as a mother. Victor then screamed and tried to walk out of the courtroom, saying she would not listen to the judge.
"Don't tell me I failed my child. You're not going to tell me that I failed. Do what you got to do," she said.
Eventually, female officers in the courtroom held Tonya Victor down in a chair to keep her in the court proceedings.
"Her outbursts, her lack of contrition got her exactly what the judge planned to give her when she went in there, when the judge went in there to impose sentence," said Ciolino.
Tonya Victor was sentenced to 21 years in prison, but she could be paroled in seven to 11 years.
Sara Gershen of the Family Service of Greater New Orleans said the Victors' other children will need a strong support system.
"Hopefully, they have support of other family members, other people, teachers, neighbors, other supports, because it sounds like maybe they were kind of isolated in this family," stated Gershen.
Gershen said the children will need help now and much later in their lives.
"I hope that people will support them, and not kind of judge, you know, they had no control over this situation," she said.
Errol Victor's tirade continued as he was being placed in the police car.
"All these women, put them in jail,it's fraud, it's fraud, it's fraud!" he yelled.
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