A state judge denied a St. Landry Parish man’s renewed request for a new trial Tuesday and said he will sentence him next month in a fiery 2011 alcohol-related interstate crash in Baton Rouge that killed five Ascension Parish residents, including a mother and her three young children.
David Leger, 33, of Palmetto, was convicted by an East Baton Rouge Parish jury in July 2014 on five counts of vehicular homicide, but District Judge Chip Moore granted him a new trial 13 months ago after a portion of the trial record could not be found.
The Louisiana Supreme Court reversed Moore’s decision in February after the documents were located and sent the case back to him for further consideration.
After hearing arguments Tuesday from Leger’s attorneys that the jury instructions on vehicular homicide given by the trial judge, Trudy White, were not proper, Moore rejected the arguments and scheduled Leger’s sentencing for May 12.
Leger’s lawyers, Jim Boren and Rachel Conner, said they will ask the state 1st Circuit Court of Appeal to review Moore’s ruling.
State Police and prosecutors have said Leger and another driver, Kelsye Hall, were engaged in a high-speed and reckless game of “cat and mouse,” or road rage, on Interstate 10 West when Leger’s pickup spun out of control, crossed the grassy median and collided into a car driven by 29-year-old Effie Fontenot, of Prairieville.
Fontenot and her sons — Austin and Keagan Fontenot, 3 and 11, respectively, and Hunter Johnson, 7 — and Fontenot’s friend and co-worker, Kimberly Stagg, 19, of Prairieville, died in the March 13, 2011, crash.
Stagg’s aunt, Charlotte Baronne, said Tuesday outside the 19th Judicial District Courthouse that she hopes Leger receives a stiff sentence.
“We just want justice,” she added.
Leger’s blood-alcohol content was 0.10 percent about three hours after the crash, which was between the Highland Road exit and Bluff Road overpass. In Louisiana for those 21 and over, a blood-alcohol concentration of 0.08 percent is considered presumptive evidence of drunken driving.
Hall, 26, of Baton Rouge, who was not intoxicated, was found guilty by White in 2013 on five counts of negligent homicide and sentenced to two years in prison. She was released in July 2014 and remains on probation.
State District Judge Don Johnson disqualified White in late 2014 from sentencing Leger after Boren complained that White was biased against Leger. Boren had argued that White demonstrated well before Leger’s trial that she already had determined Leger was drunk and guilty.