Crime

Dupras formally charged with double murder - has family tie with Fresno DA’s office

A Kingsburg man charged with killing his estranged wife and her mother is related to a senior official in the Fresno County District Attorney’s Office, but prosecutors on Wednesday said they were “not aware” of any conflicts of interest in the case.

Fresno prosecutors also on Wednesday formally charged Alan Dupras with two counts of murder in connection with the Dec. 11, 2017, shooting deaths of Jennifer Dupras, 55, and Cynthia Houk, 88. His arraignment is scheduled for Thursday morning.

Fresno County Sheriff’s investigators arrested Dupras on Tuesday at his Kingsburg home.

The prosecutor’s office confirmed the 58-year-old double-homicide suspect is a cousin of Assistant District Attorney Jeffery Dupras, a senior-level official in the Fresno County DA’s office.

Steve Wright, a spokesman for the prosecutor’s office, said there was no known conflict of interest for the district attorney’s office to prosecute the case.

“The case of The People vs Alan Dupras is being reviewed in detail,” he said in a statement. “If there are any conflicts that are discovered, they will be handled in the appropriate legal and ethical manner. At this point, we are unaware of any legal conflicts that exist which would prevent the Fresno County District Attorney from being the prosecuting agency.”

Alison Dupras, Jennifer and Alan’s daughter, said at first she was concerned the relationship could cause a conflict, but after sitting down with District Attorney Lisa Smittcamp and her team, she felt confident the relationship wouldn’t be an issue.

She said her father and Jeffrey Dupras were not close, to her knowledge. “From what I was told, he’s been completely walled off from the case,” she said. “I’m confident in the district attorney’s ability to prosecute the case.”

John Cary Sims, a professor at McGeorge School of Law at the University of Pacific, said it’s unclear whether Jeffrey Dupras’ relationship to the defendant would cause a conflict for the district attorney’s office. Typical conflicts include spouses, siblings, children or close friends.

The district attorney’s office must squash any appearance of a conflict because if the case is lost, doubt could be cast on the prosecution’s effort, Sims said.

Dupras also is charged with arson for torching Houk’s car in November and setting fire to the Alliance Française de Fresno building in early December, according to authorities.

Alan DuPras.jpg
Alan Dupras, 58, of Kingsburg Fresno County Sheriff's Office

If convicted, Dupras could face the death penalty or a lifetime prison sentence without the possibility of parole. The district attorney’s office will investigate before determining whether to seek the death penalty.

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News of Dupras’ arrest Tuesday prompted several groups to share new details surrounding the case.

In an interview Wednesday with the Bee, Fresno private investigator, Michael Braa, said Alan Dupras hired him days before the women were found dead to investigate whether Jennifer was having an affair with someone from the Alliance Française de Fresno. Braa leased Dupras a GPS unit to put on Jennifer’s vehicle, but Dupras never completed the task. The GPS unit now remains in evidence at the sheriff’s office, Braa said.

Sheriff Margaret Mims confirmed Jennifer’s new boyfriend had ties to the club.

The private investigator said he was “stunned,” and “shocked” to learn the women were shot to death less than a week after he was hired. He immediately called law enforcement and later was interviewed by sheriff’s office detectives.

“He did seem like he was stressed or upset about the divorce,” Braa said. “He was concerned about his future. He had his life plan already figured out. Retirement was something he’d been considering, and it was tossed up in the air (by the divorce).”

Braa said he only learned about the arson fires after Dupras’ arrest.

Chris Bach, a member of the Alliance Française, said the club members never doubted the arson was committed by their former president’s estranged husband. Jennifer Dupras told members of the club that if anything ever happened to her, Alan Dupras would be the one to do it, Bach said.

The arson fire and Dupras’ death forced the club to cancel numerous events, including a Christmas gathering, he said.

After the news of Alan Dupras’ arrest on Tuesday, the Alliance Française released a statement on Facebook saying in the months since Jennifer’s death, the club has rebuilt with support both locally and globally. The club established a special scholarship fund in Jennifer’s name.

“Jennifer is missed daily within our organization and will forever be a part of the heart and soul of the Alliance Française de Fresno,” the statement read. “That the arson of our previous location and the murder of Jennifer and her mother are all connected brings us great sadness. We believe that justice will be served and that Jennifer’s family will now finally have a chance at closure.”

Pablo Lopez contributed to this story.
Brianna Calix: 559-441-6166, @BriannaCalix
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