LAFAYETTE — Seth Fontenot’s trial on charges of murder and attempted murder has been delayed for a fifth time, with state district Judge Ed Rubin last week scrubbing the trial’s Dec. 1 start and moving it March 16, 2015.
The reason for the latest delay is unclear. Documents that might explain Rubin’s action have been sealed, and the court hearing at which the delay was discussed on Monday was closed to media. The court also has banned attorneys from talking to reporters.
Two attorneys in the case — prosecutor J.N. Prather and Thomas Guilbeau, Fontenot’s lead lawyer — last week said they could not discuss why the trial was delayed or what was said during the closed-door hearing.
Fontenot faces life in prison for shooting and killing 15-year-old Austin Rivault on Feb. 10, 2013. Two other 15-year-olds were wounded by Fontenot, who fired three 9 mm shots at a truck he believed contained thieves who had tried to break into his vehicle.
On Monday, Rubin chastised The Acadiana Advocate for publishing an article that used information in a document that apparently was supposed to be sealed but was not.
Rubin then warned that the newspaper faced “peril” if it published any stories using sealed documents.
Fontenot’s trial on one count of first-degree murder and two counts of attempted first-degree murder was last delayed in August, when retired Cameron Parish Judge Hadley Ward Fontenot bumped the trial from Sept. 22 to Dec. 1. The retired judge made the ruling while Rubin was on leave.
In February, Rubin had moved the then-scheduled start of the trial from April to Sept. 22. The delay followed two other delays in 2013, when 15th Judicial District Judge Kristian Earles presided over the case before transferring to a bench in Acadia Parish, which also is part of the 15th district.
The District Attorney’s Office said shortly after Fontenot’s indictment in February 2013 that it would not pursue the death penalty.
Fontenot also faces possible jail time for other alleged crimes.
Prosecutors in November 2013 charged Fontenot with two counts of drug distribution. The case is separate from the murder trial. There has been no trial date set on the drug charges, but a hearing is scheduled for Jan. 22.