Mike LeCaze and Meryland Robinson were the closest of friends with a bond that went back 20 years.
“Him and Meryland grew up like brothers. Where you seen one, you seen the other,” Mike’s ex-wife, Rhonda Sanders, told Oxygen’s "Snapped," airing on Sundays at 6/5c on Oxygen.
Their fraternal bond, however, wouldn’t prevent Robinson from having an affair with Mike’s second wife, Princess LeCaze, and from killing his best friend when Princess asked him to.
Mike LeCaze wanted to be a cowboy from an early age. He was born in 1955, just south of Natchitoches, Louisiana, a small town closer in proximity and culture to Texas than New Orleans.
“He always was out with the rest of them cowboys. He went and rode bulls for awhile just to show off to people that he could do it,” Mike’s brother, Joe LaCaze, told producers.
In 1974, Mike married Rhonda Sanders. He had just graduated from high school and she was only 14 years old.
“I was in love. Mike could be very funny, playful, joking,” Rhonda told “Snapped.” They had two children, Michael Jr., born in 1978, and William, born in 1981. To support his family, Mike worked for Smith Cattle, and was with the company for over 20 years.
Just kids when they were married, Mike and Rhonda grew apart over the course of their marriage, and divorced in 1990 after 16 years together.
Mike then met Princess Potmesil while working for her father, Joe. At the time, she was a 30-year-old divorcée with three young children.
“Princess and Mike to me was totally opposite. Mike was a cowboy, wore blue jeans. He wore spurs on his boots. Princess, on the other hand, was always dressed to a T,” Rhonda told producers.
Mike and Princess began dating and were married in July 1993. Mike took an active interest in her kids and the couple lived at his modest home out in the country. But tragedy soon struck.
When he was 19, Mike was diagnosed with polycystic kidney disease. He successfully managed it for years, but his condition grew worse in 1997. To survive, he would need to have a shunt put in so he could receive dialysis.
Mike wound up dead before his treatment could begin. Princess called 911 on the evening of March 1, 1997, saying she had come home to find her husband in a pool of blood on the kitchen floor.
Mike had been shot once in the shoulder by a .30-30 rifle, The Natchitoches Times, a local newspaper, reported in 2017.
“We knew we were looking at something that had happened within the last three four five hours. We found at the door where you’re coming into the kitchen a shell casing, a .30 caliber shell casing,” former Natchitoches Parish Sheriff Victor Jones Jr. told producers.
The house was in a disarray, with drawers pulled out and emptied on the floor, so investigators considered the possibility of a robbery gone wrong. They interviewed Princess, hoping she could shed light on the events of the day. She claimed she had been working and running errands up until she got home around 7 p.m.
With not much to go on, five months would pass with no leads or arrests. The case was going nowhere until that September, when Princess presented police with what she claimed was Mike’s suicide note.
“She said Mike LeCaze, her husband, refused to go on dialysis, did not want to be hooked up to a machine, did not want to undergo a kidney transplant and essentially had talked about ending his own life,” former Natchitoches Parish District Attorney Van Kyzar told producers.
This contradicted her previous statements.
“Early on in the investigation, March 1, she was adamant that he was looking forward to getting dialysis and getting help and there was no mention at that time about him wanting him to die,” Jones Jr. told producers.
Investigators spoke with Mike’s family, who were insistent he would never kill himself.
“He never, ever said he wanted to commit suicide. He was all for getting the stent put in and trying to get better,” LeCaze’s son, Michael Sanders, told producers.
Mike’s family told detectives they had heard rumors about Princess and Mike’s best friend, Meryland Robinson. “People had seen them together and you know how it is, little towns they start talking,” Rhonda told producers.
Detectives pulled Princess and Robinson's phone records and discovered a call made to him from a payphone on the morning of Mike’s murder. The payphone was en route from the LeCaze home to Princess’ job at Walmart.
And since Mike’s death, Princess had gone on lavish vacation trips thanks to life insurance policies in her husband’s name. She later sold Mike’s home, netting an additional $110,000.
“By that point I was convinced that she had participated in the murder,” Van Kyzar told producers.
Robinson had accompanied Princess on trips to Houston and New Orleans, but their relationship didn’t last. She next took up with another friend of Mike’s named Simon Sarpy.
Police questioned Sarpy, who told them Princess’ affair with Robinson began two years prior to Mike’s death. He said she was worried about the police coming after her and had mentioned a gun being thrown in a local river, according to court documents.
Princess was then brought in for questioning but now had a new story to tell.
“She said Mike had asked her to end his life," Van Kyzar told producers.
“He had begged me to kill him and I couldn’t do it,” Princess says in audio of her interrogation, obtained by “Snapped.” “Meryland told me that he would take care of it."
Princess LeCaze and Meryland Robinson were arrested and charged with the murder of Mike LeCaze. They were subsequently released on bail. Detectives didn’t necessarily think this was a bad thing.
“I can recall thinking to ourselves at some point there needs to be some type of fallout between Princess and Meryland,” Jones Jr. told producers. “We need to monitor their actions and wait for a fallout between the two of them before we find out the real truth.”
Detectives got their wish on May 14, 1998, when Princess called 911.
“Princess frantically called in and said that her daddy was holding someone at gunpoint and she was afraid he was going to kill whoever he had out there,” Jones said. When deputies arrived, they found Meryland Robinson.
Robinson was arrested for trespassing and brought in for questioning. Robinson told detectives that Princess had invited him over to her home but that when he got there her father came after him with a gun.
Fearful for his life and believing Princess had thrown him under the bus, Robinson told investigators everything.
“He gave Sheriff Jones a statement that he actually perpetrated the murder, that he killed Mike,” Van Kyzar told producers. “Meryland Robinson in his statement indicated that Princess LeCaze planned the murder, that she actually asked him to kill Mike.”
Robinson said Princess was unhappy about Mike’s dialysis treatments. She didn’t want to take care of him and was tired of being married to Mike — plus, she knew about his life insurance policies.
Robinson said that on the morning of Mike’s murder Princess called him to confirm the plan. Later that afternoon, he asked his 14-year-old son to drive him to Mike’s house. Mike was watching television when Robinson entered through a side door and shot him.
After the murder, Robinson trashed the home to make it look like a robbery. Then he cut up the gun and dumped pieces of it to the river. Authorities later found remnants of the murder weapon.
Robinson pleaded guilty to manslaughter and was sentenced to the maximum of 40 years in prison, according to court documents. He also agreed to testify against Princess LeCaze in her upcoming murder trial.
Princess LeCaze went on trial in Aug. 1998. She was found guilty of murder in the second degree and sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole, the Natchitoches Times reported.
However, in 2011, LeCaze won an appeal after an undisclosed agreement revealed Robinson’s testimony was secured only after prosecutors agreed not to pursue charges against his son. She was released from prison to await a retrial and spent the subsequent years working for her family’s meat pie business, according to a 2018 Natchitoches Times report.
Before she could stand trial, Princess LeCaze pleaded guilty to manslaughter in November 2017, local ABC affiliate KTBS reported at the time. She was sentenced to 17 years in prison but was given credit for time served and would only serve a little over a year back behind bars.
Now 59, Meryland Robinson remains incarcerated. He will not be eligible for parole until he is 72 years old.
For more on this case and others, watch "Snapped," airing on Sundays at 6/5c on Oxygen.
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