Judge acquits Lafayette man in 2009 slayingLAFAYETTE — A state district judge acquitted Troydell Simmons on Thursday in the July 2009 second-degree murder of Mark Boutin, 41.

Simmons, 22, was accused of shooting Boutin once in the head with a 9 mm handgun in the 700 block of Fado Street in Carencro on the morning of July 2, 2009.

Simmons stood trial in June, but the proceedings ended in a mistrial after the prosecution accused Simmons of homosexual misconduct while in jail.

A jury was waived for the new trial, which was presided over by 15th Judicial District Judge Jules D. Edwards III.

The trial ended Tuesday but Edwards delayed handing down the verdict until Thursday.

The verdict prompted cries of joy from Simmons’ family and friends, all of whom were quickly rebuked by Edwards.

“If you cannot behave yourself in this moment of tragedy, you should just walk out of the room,” he said.

Outside of the courthouse, Simmons’ mother, Mary Simmons, said she is excited that her son will finally be able to hold his baby girl, who was born a few months after her son’s arrest in 2009.

“I’m excited and I’m happy my child is coming home,” said Simmons’ mother. “He’s sat in jail for two years for something he was wrongfully accused for.”

Simmons’ attorney, Harold D. Register Jr., said his heart goes out to the two families, both of whom have had to endure so much over the past two years.

A family member of the victim declined to comment Thursday.

Before handing down the verdict, Edwards said the case was troubling because of a perceived lack of coordination and lack of free-flowing information among the law enforcement agencies that worked the case.

He said the state was able to prove that the defendant was unwise, untruthful and that he was in possession of a firearm with an obliterated serial number.

However, the state failed to prove that Simmons was responsible for the killing, Edwards said.

During the trial, prosecutor Pat Magee said bullet casings found at the scene of the shooting matched the gun that was later found in Simmons’ possession during a traffic stop in Lafayette.

Register told Edwards that his client claimed ownership of the gun to protect the three men he was with on the day they were stopped.

Simmons would never have done that had he known the gun had been used to kill someone, Register said.

Magee said he disagreed with the verdict, adding that he personally found no fault in the actions of the Carencro Police Department.

“I completely believe that Carencro P.D. did an excellent job of investigating this matter,” Magee said.

The verdict did not sit well with Carencro Police Chief Carlos Stout, who maintained that his officers made the right arrest.

“We know we have the right suspect therefore the investigation is closed due to the Judge’s decision,” Stout wrote in an email Thursday. “We had indisputable evidence with the murder weapon found in Simmons’ possession as well as DNA evidence on the trigger of the gun, which indicated 99.998 percent that the contact DNA was that of Simmons.”

Stout blamed the verdict on the mistrial, “which forced this case to be heard by one individual.

“I respect Judge Edwards and he made a decision based on his own beliefs which is not for me to second guess,” Stout wrote.

Stout wrote that he feels for Boutin’s family.

“I called and expressed my apologies and wished we could have done more had the circumstances allowed,” Stout wrote. “I am not happy knowing that a suspected murderer will be walking the streets.”

Register said he totally disagrees with Stout’s comments as “justice was properly administered.”

Register said he hopes the department will now focus its efforts on finding the right person so as to give the victim’s family members closure.

Magee said the state now intends to pursue perjury charges against Simmons, who was arrested last week in connection with statements he made while testifying during his first trial.

During his testimony, Simmons said he had never touched the gun before, which DNA evidence disputed, Magee said.

Edwards did find Simmons guilty of being in possession of a firearm with an obliterated serial number and sentenced him to serve six months in the Lafayette Parish Correctional Center with credit for time served.

Simmons has been incarcerated at the parish jail since his arrest in 2009.

Register said Simmons is being held on a $20,000 bail, “which means he probably still won’t be able to get out.”