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Passaniti trial: DA investigator alleges conspiracy to control victim's money

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Linda Passaniti Linda Passaniti
CADDO PARISH, LA (KSLA) -

The prosecution continued Wednesday to build on the state's case in the murder trial of Linda Kate Passaniti, alleging conspiracy and forgery among other misdeeds.

First on the stand was Don Ashley, former investigator for the Caddo Parish District Attorney's office. Ashley told jurors that there was a conspiracy to control the money of 73-year-old murder victim Ernest Luttrell.

Passaniti, 58, is charged with second degree murder in the death of her stepfather, Luttrell. He was found shot to death inside his Keithville home in July 2010.

Prosecutors say Passaniti and Luttrell's wife, Loretta, arranged for his murder in order to gain access to his money, allegedly hiring a hitman, Erick Crain, and enlisting the help of family friend Tina VanMoerkeque.

Both Crain and VanMeorkeque have taken plea deals and agreed to testify against Passaniti in the case. Loretta Luttrell was declared incompetent to stand trial.

Ashley also testified that he thought Passaniti behaved strangely as she tried to get her stepdad committed to a mental facility.

Next on the stand was Robert Foley, described as a hand writing expert. Foley told jurors his believe that Luttrell's will was forged.

Later, a notary public testified that Passaniti brought to the notary documents that resembled a will. The notary admitted to notarizing the documents without reading them, as if she had personally witnessed Luttrell signing them when she hadn't.

The DA's office says the will was forged. The notary added that she thought that she was helping.

Stay tuned to KSLA News 12 for updates on the Passaniti trial.

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