NEW IBERIA — During the sentencing hearing Friday of the man convicted in last year’s killing of Robert Chastant, a respected New Iberia orthodontist, Chastant’s second wife testified that she hoped the defendant suffers “eternal damnation” for his crime.
“You are totally worthless to our society,” Susan Chastant Hall told the defendant, Ismaiel Viera.
Viera, who tended to Chastant’s horses and worked as a handyman for the orthodontist, admitted to hitting Chastant multiple times with a hammer during an argument over tools that belonged to Chastant.
Viera, 22, pleaded guilty in June to second-degree murder, which carries a mandatory life sentence.
District Judge Keith R.J. Comeaux sentenced Viera to life in prison without benefit of probation, parole or suspension of sentence in the Dec. 13 death of the 59-year-old orthodontist.
Hall, one of four people to offer victims’ impact statements, spoke of her desire for a reality TV show that would force Viera to stand before a “wheel of consequences.”
She said she would like to personally spin the wheel.
“Hopefully, it would land on ‘Smash his head multiple times with a hammer until death,’ ” Hall said.
Chastant’s widow, Laurie Futral Chastant, did not testify Friday. However, Robert Chastant’s daughters Michelle Chastant Stark and Meagan Chastant Qualls also offered victims’ impact statements.
Stark submitted a copy of her statement in Spanish, as Viera speaks little English.
She described her father as a man who was “so charming that everyone fell in love with him instantly.”
“Our family and this community will forever be devastated by your senseless act,” she told Viera.
Qualls said her father was a “lover of life and a kid at heart” who cared deeply about his family, his philanthropies, his orthodontist practice and his horses.
“I had no idea how much a driving force he was in my life until he was gone,” she said.
The final person to speak was Chastant’s sister, Paige Chastant D’Amore, who offered up biblical anecdotes as she read from her statement.
“We have and will continue to suffer and that, too, is by your hand,” she told Viera.
D’Amore said she had always hoped she would not have to look at Viera. “Now, I’m sure that I will never forget you,” she said.
Speaking through a court interpreter, Viera addressed the more than 20 family members in attendance at Friday’s hearing.
“He’s very sorry for all the sorrow he has caused you,” said Cecile Labauve, the court interpreter. “He’s very sorry. He has no words for it.”
The case was prosecuted by First Assistant District Attorney Bo Duhe.
Viera was represented by Nancy Dunning, a public defender for the 16th Judicial District.