Two women were killed by hitmen Jan. 13 while trying to protect the life of a rape victim who was the target of a murder-for-hire plot organized by a family member, authorities said.
Brittany Cormier, 34, and Hope Nettleton, 37, were fatally shot in the attack in Montegut, Louisiana, but neither were the intended victim, according to the Terrebonne Parish Sheriff's Office.
Brittany Cormier's brother, Beaux Cormier, was actually conspiring to kill his niece, who was set to testify against him for allegedly raping her, Sheriff Tim Soignet said in a Monday press conference. Beaux Cormier is already a convicted sex offender and was arrested on suspicion of raping his niece in March 2020.
He is accused of paying two of his friends, Andrew Eskine, 25, and Dalvin Wilson, 22, to carry out the murder.
On Jan. 13, Wilson drove to Brittany Cormier's house, where he allegedly asked the rape victim to identify herself. Instead, Brittany lied, saying she was the victim. According to the sheriff, Wilson then shot her.
“Brittany Cormier [told] the shooter she’s the rape victim, accepting her fate to save the life of the actual victim," Soignet said.
Nettleton, a neighbor who was visiting Brittany's home during the incident, was also killed while attempting to fight off the shooter, authorities said. Both women died at the scene. The rape victim is alive, police said.
Samantha LeMaire, a close friend of Brittany's, told the Acadiana Advocate she did not know much about Brittany's relationship with Beaux, as her friend hardly ever spoke of her brother. According to the local news outlet, Brittany's children were hiding in a closet during the incident.
"She would do anything for her kids," LeMaire said of her friend. "But to this extent? I would have never thought it would ever have come down to this."
This was not the hitmen's first attempt in killing Beaux's niece, police said. Previously, the two had driven more than two hours from their respective Louisiana towns to surveil the house, then attempted to carry out the murder in November but failed, authorities said.
On the day of the attack, Wilson went alone. Eskine was out of town for work, but he is still facing charges because he allegedly helped plan the attack and lent Wilson his car.
All three men have been charged with two counts of first-degree murder and are being held in jail on $2 million bond apiece. Terrebonne Parish District Attorney Joseph L. Waitz Jr. said in the press conference that the death penalty "is absolutely on the table."