NEW ORLEANS — An aggrieved ex-con gunned down a Louisiana woman and her father after a lousy first date in which she tried to beat a hasty retreat after texting a friend that the man had a “pumpkin head,” investigators said.
Jamal Harris, 36, of New Orleans, faces two counts of first-degree murder in the Oct. 3 shooting deaths of Jessica Troulliet, 35, and her 56-year-old father, Robert Templet Jr., whose bodies were found in her Mercury Mountaineer which was abandoned in Marrero, NOLA.com reported.
Both had been shot in the back in the head. Detectives suspect Harris — who was convicted of armed robbery in 2007 — killed the pair following an internet meetup that had gone south, Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s homicide Det. Steven Keller testified in court.
Keller cited text messages sent by Trouillet to a friend — as well as Harris’ statements to investigators — that showed the pair has gotten into a fight at her home during the date, which they set up on a dating app called Tagged.
“She said he did not look like his profile pic, and she [said] he looked like a pumpkin head,” the detective said of the woman’s texts. “She told him she had another date, and he had to leave.”
Keller said Harris admitted feeling insulted.
“He admitted being upset with her because she was speaking to another individual on the phone,” the detective testified.
Harris claimed he left Trouillet’s home at 9:30 p.m. and headed to his father’s house in Marrero, where his cousin, Jamal Gabriel, 34, picked him up, Keller testified.
But phone records showed that Trouillet picked up Harris in her SUV some 45 minutes later, and then texted a friend for help to “come to the house” to make Harris leave, Keller said.
The friend balked at the request and detectives believe Trouillet agreed to take Harris back to where she was picked up while her father went along for the ride, NOLA.com reported.
Investigators think Trouillet and Templet were fatally shot sometime after 1:10 a.m., based on surveillance video.
Harris was later arrested at Gabriel’s home in Avondale on Oct. 21. Gabriel was also charged with being an accessory after the fact to first-degree murder, NOLA.com reported.
An attorney for Harris argued that no direct evidence linked him to the slayings.
“This is a completely circumstantial case,” defense attorney Richard Bourke said. “All of it is based on GPS records … He could have left before the shooting. Someone else could have been the shooter. There’s a lot of things that can happen.”
A judge on Tuesday found probable cause to hold Harris, who was ordered back in custody without bail, NOLA.com reported.