Billy Lutes

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Billy Gene Lutes, I

District Attorney for Grant Parish
In office
January 1, 1973 – November 15, 1980
Preceded by Sam L. Wells
Succeeded by Joseph P. "Joe" Beck, II

Judge of the 35th Judicial District (Grant Parish)
In office
January 7, 1984 – March 1, 1994
Preceded by Wilbur Teal "Brandy" McCain

Born December 18, 1931
Colfax, Grant Parish
Died February 3, 2006
Colfax, Louisiana
Political party Democrat
Spouse(s) Virginia Lee Marler Lutes (married 1960-2006, his death)
Children Julianne Lutes Despino

Billy Lutes, II

Religion Episcopalian

Billy Gene Lutes, I (December 18, 1931 – February 3, 2006), was a lawyer and businessman from his native Colfax in Grant Parish, Louisiana, who served as a district attorney and a judge of his state's 35th Judicial District.


One of four children of Paul E. Lutes, Sr., (1908-1984) and the former Clara Sheets (1905-1997), with two brothers surviving, Paul, Jr., and Johnny, he enlisted in the United States Army and served in an engineering battalion in the Korean War. Thereafter, he attended the Baptist-affiliated Louisiana College in Pineville and then earned law degrees from both Loyola University in New Orleans and the University of Mississippi at Oxford. In addition to his Colfax law practice, he owned and operated Lutesville Sand and Gravel Company, which makes asphalt and ready-mix concrete for the construction industry.[1] His sister, Mary Louise Lutes Harlan (1928-2017), was a registered nurse from Pineville who was born in Black Rock in Lawrence County in northeastern Arkansas. She was the widow of Jack T. Harlan[2] (1926-2015), a native of Montgomery in Grant Parish and a State Farm insurance agent in Alexandria.[3]

In 1960, Lutes married the former Virginia Lee Marler (1935-2017), daughter of a prominent Colfax couple, James Everett Marler, I (died 1979), and the former Wilma Bunch (1906-1995). The Luteses had two children, both of Colfax, Julianne Despino (born March 14, 1962) and husband Randall Holden Despino (born March 8, 1961), and Billy Lutes, II (born March 31, 1964), and wife Cheryl Denise Lutes (born October 25, 1966).[1][4]

Lutes sat on the boards of the Alexandria Country Day School in Alexandria, Louisiana, and of the Kisatchie Delta Law Enforcement agency. He was a member of the Masonic lodge and a Shriner. He was an Eagle Scout and past den leader of the Attakapas Council of the Boy Scouts of America at Alexandria Country Day School. He was a board member of St. Philip's Episcopal Church in Boyce in northwestern Rapides Parish.[1]


Lutes ran unsuccessfully in the 1959 Democratic primary for state representative for Grant Parish. He lost to William K. Brown,[5] who held the seat from 1960 to 1972.[6]

Lutes served as district attorney for Grant Parish until his resignation on November 15, 1980. In the special election to choose Lutes' successor as DA, Robert Lanny Kennedy (born March 1938) of Colfax, an opponent of Lutes' interim successor and former law partner Joseph P. "Joe" Beck, II (born January 27, 1949), of Pollock,[7] questioned how the DA handled a shooting on Egg Farm Road on November 30, 1979; one five men involved eventually pleaded guilty to negligent homicide. Lutes' handling of the Bobby Ray Brown case came under fire when attorney Kennedy claimed that Brown should have been prosecuted for two deaths before his later indictment for manslaughter in connection with a barroom brawl. Kennedy further claimed that brutal crimes were not prosecuted because of what he called "laziness or incompetence."[8]

Beck, who became acting DA when Lutes stepped down, pledged in the campaign to reduce the backlog of cases in his office.[9] Beck went on to defeat Kennedy in the special election to choose a successor for the three years remaining in Lutes' term. A Democrat, Lutes was elected in 1983 as district court judge, a post which he held from January 7, 1984,[10] until his resignation on March 1, 1994, at the age of sixty-three.[11] Lutes was sworn in as judge by Jeannette Theriot Knoll (born 1943), then a judge of the Louisiana Circuit Court of Appeal for the Third Circuit in Lake Charles and later a justice of the Louisiana Supreme Court in New Orleans. She became acquainted with Lutes when she was an assistant DA for Avoyelles Parish. Knoll mentioned "several occasions" in which she worked with Lutes on criminal cases: "Billy is a man of integrity and legal ability qualities that are needed in a judge. ... He assumes "a great judicial task. The people of Grant Parish are very privileged to have such a man as Billy Lutes to serve as their judge."[10]

In 1986 the Louisiana Supreme Court let stand Judge Lutes' initial disqualification of Ellison J. Odneal (born October 10, 1948)[12] as a candidate for mayor of Colfax. A voter filed suit to block Odneal from the ballot on the grounds that Odneal was not a qualified elector of the municipality because he did not live within the city limits. Odneal contended that he owned a residence within the city limits at the time of candidacy filing. In his appeal to the circuit and Supreme Court, Odneal claimed that an error was made in Lutes' court regarding provision which requires a timely hearing on the issue in the district court.[13]

The Luteses and Marlers are interred at Colfax Cemetery.[4]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Billy Gene Lutes. Retrieved on September 14, 2017.
  2. Mary Louise Lutes Harlan. The Alexandria Town Talk. Retrieved on October 17, 2017.
  3. Jack T. Harlan. Retrieved on October 17, 2017.
  4. 4.0 4.1 Virginia Lee Marler Lutes. The Alexandria Town Talk. Retrieved on September 14, 2017.
  5. The Shreveport Times, December 13, 1959, p. 4-B.
  6. Membership in the Louisiana House of Representatives, 1812-2012. Retrieved on September 17, 2017.
  7. Joseph Beck. Retrieved on September 15, 2017.
  8. Candidates for DA in Grant Exchange Stinging Criticisms. The Alexandria Daily Town Talk (April 2, 1981). Retrieved on September 15, 2017.
  9. Acting Grant DA Pledges to Cut Backlog if Elected. The Alexandria Daily Town Talk (March 3, 1981). Retrieved on September 15, 2017.
  10. 10.0 10.1 Billy G. Lutes Is Sworn In As 35th District Court Judge. The Alexandria Daily Town Talk (January 8, 1984). Retrieved on September 15, 2017.
  11. District Judge B. G. Lutes Resigns. The Alexandria Daily Town Talk (March 5, 1994). Retrieved on September 15, 2017.
  12. Ellison Odneal. Retrieved on September 15, 2017.
  13. Louisiana High Court Lets Stand Candidate's Disqualification. Alexandria Daily Town Talk (March 4, 1986). Retrieved on September 17, 2017.