LAFAYETTE — Seth Fontenot’s murder trial is scheduled to begin Tuesday with jury selection even though pretrial issues such as appellate court reviews and lining up expert witnesses have yet to be resolved, Fontenot’s attorneys said in court filings.
It’s been 10 months since Fontenot admitted to police he fired three shots early Feb. 10 outside his home in south Lafayette, killing 15-year-old Austin Rivault and wounding two other high school students, who were 15 at the time.
Fontenot was indicted on Feb. 21 on one count of first-degree murder and two counts of attempted first-degree murder.
On Friday, Fontenot’s attorneys again asked 15th District Judge Kristian Earles to delay the trial. Attorneys Thomas Guilbeau and Katherine Guilbeau Guillot contend Fontenot “needs significantly more time to prepare this matter for trial.”
The defense attorneys have noted that Fontenot admitted to police he pulled the trigger without knowing he’d killed someone. Their argument is that Fontenot’s confession should be withheld as evidence because he was well into his interview with police before they told him someone had been killed.
Fontenot told Lafayette police he fired a 9 mm handgun with hollow point bullets to scare the people he saw in a truck pulling away from the Green Meadow Road home he shared with his mom, sister and stepfather. The family has since moved.
On Sept. 29, Earles ruled the confession could be used in the trial, a decision upheld Thursday by the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeal.
Guilbeau and Guillot said Fontenot has 30 days after the 3rd Circuit’s ruling to file for a review with the Supreme Court, and argue their client’s trial must be postponed while he considers whether or not to file for another appeal.
“In addition, (Fontenot) intends to hire several experts to testify on his behalf,” the attorneys wrote.
At the Aug. 29 hearing, Earles ruled that Fontenot would be classified as an indigent defender and eligible for state money for investigators and for experts to testify on his behalf.
Guilbeau and Guillot said they’re still negotiating with officials at the 15th Judicial District Public Defender’s Office, which will put up the funds for Fontenot’s defense.
Also unanswered by Earles are other motions by Fontenot, including a request that would prohibit information about previous alleged crimes from being introduced in evidence.
The Lafayette Parish District Attorney’s Office last week charged Fontenot in an unrelated drug case in which Fontenot, formerly a University of Louisiana at Lafayette student, is accused of distributing amphetamines to other students. The charges were based on an investigation by the UL-Lafayette Police Department.