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Queens Chronicle

LIC nurse pleads guilty in cold case

Leila Mulla sentenced to 30 years in prison for 1984 murder and robbery

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Posted: Thursday, May 22, 2014 10:30 am | Updated: 11:32 am, Thu May 29, 2014.

Long Island City resident Leila Mulla, a former exotic dancer turned nurse, pleaded guilty on May 22 in the 1984 slaying of a 34-year-old businessman in Louisiana.

Mulla, 48, who was arrested in 1984 but released due to lack of evidence, admitted in court that she helped her ex-boyfriend, Ronald Dalton Dunnagan, poison Gary Kergan, whose body was never found.

She was sentenced to 30 years in prison and agreed to cooperate in the prosecution of Dunnagan, 65, who was arrested for the case twice but is not under indictment.

Kergan was last seen alive on Nov. 29, 1984 at an apartment Mulla and Dunnagan shared in north Baton Rogue, according to the police.

He was not declared legally dead until 1986, when what was thought to be Kergan’s blood was found in the trunk of his Cadillac El Dorado.

“Our family is very happy that after 30 years, justice is finally being served for Gary, who was an unwitting victim in a calculated act of brutal murder,” Kergan’s brother, Ted Kergan, said in a written statement. “It’s been a long and painful road, but we’ve never given up on Gary and neither has the justice system.”

According to court papers, Mulla worked as a dancer at the Night Spot Lounge in Louisiana, where she met Kergan.

Mulla left the lounge and “lured” him back to her apartment — where Dunnagan was allegedly hiding.

Mulla’s attorney said Dunnagan poisoned the victim’s wine and Mulla gave it to him. After he was unconscious, the defense said, Dunnagan dragged Kergan into another room to finish the job.

Mulla’s attorney also maintained that his client was a victim of Dunnagan.

He said she was a teen runaway and a victim of human trafficking. The attorney accused Dunnagan of prostituting Mulla and other girls and keeping the money from the Kergan robbery to himself.

It was originally reported that Kergan had about $2,000 cash in his possession and jewelry valued at more than $8,000 when he disappeared.

Mulla was booked in December 2012 for second-degree murder, simple robbery and criminal conspiracy. The charges increased to first-degree murder when she was extradited and indicted in April 2013.

According to prosecutors, Mulla must serve at least 25 years and five months of her sentence before she can be up for parole.

An affidavit of probable cause reports Mulla had written an entry in her diary at the time of the murder, indicating the Kergan robbery was planned between Dunnagan and herself.

Dunnagan, who was described as a “drifter” in news reports at the time of the 1984 arrests, was released from jail last year after a grand jury took no action on him.

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