PENSACOLA, Fla. (AP) — A man charged with first-degree murder in the death of former Pensacola newspaper reporter wiped tears from his eyes and told a jury on Wednesday that he did not kill the man.
William Cormier III told jurors on Wednesday that he was acting under the direction of his twin brother when he moved items from the dead man's home and sold the dead man's belongings.
Closing statements and jury deliberations are set for Thursday.
Cormier III told jurors that he did not know Sean Dugas was dead and that he believed his twin brother, Christopher Cormier, was in constant contact with Dugas. William Cormier III said he thought he was helping Dugas move to Georgia and that he and his twin brother were selling Dugas' items to pay off Dugas' debts.
"I assumed he was in contact with Sean the whole time. He said Sean wanted to leave Pensacola," Cormier III testified.
Cormier III also testified that he believed he was helping his father and his brother dig a barbecue pit in the backyard of his father's Georgia home. Dugas' body was later found buried in the pit and encased in concrete.
"I love my brother very much and, no matter what he did or may have done, I would have done anything to keep him from going to prison," William Cormier III testified after attorneys questioned him about a January letter he penned to his father from the Escambia County Jail. He said in the letter that he was considering suicide.
Christopher Cormier, has pleaded no contest to charges of helping his brother transport Dugas' body from Pensacola to Georgia.
Earlier Wednesday William Cormier Jr., the twins' father, told jurors of a "horrible" smell that came from the back of a U-Haul that William Cormier III drove to his home in Georgia from Pensacola in 2012.
"It smelled like a dead dog," the father testified.
Prosecutors allege William Cormier III bludgeoned Dugas to death in August 2012 and, with the help of Christopher Cormier, transported his body from Pensacola to Georgia, leaving the body in the plastic container surrounded by air fresheners and potpourri for more than a week before burying it.
A medical examiner told jurors that Dugas died from multiple blows to his head with a blunt-force instrument, likely a hammer.
Dr. Cassie Boggs, an assistant medical examiner from The Georgia Bureau of Investigation, did an autopsy of Dugas on Oct. 9, 2012.