The new trial ordered last year for a St. Landry Parish man convicted of drunken driving in a fiery Interstate 10 crash in Baton Rouge that killed five Ascension Parish residents was taken away Friday by the Louisiana Supreme Court.
The high court sent the case of David Leger, 33, of Palmetto, back to state District Judge Chip Moore to reconsider whether Leger is entitled to a new vehicular homicide trial.
Leger’s attorney, Jim Boren, predicted the result will be the same after more delay.
“All we’re doing is another delay before another new trial is granted,” he said.
East Baton Rouge Parish District Attorney Hillar Moore III, no relation to the judge, disagreed.
“The Supreme Court’s decision affirms the state’s position that a new trial was improperly granted,” the district attorney said. “In particular, it demonstrates that the defendant failed to prove any error or injustice, and the court erred in granting him a new trial.”
The high court said Chip Moore granted Leger’s request for a new trial, at least in part, on the absence in the court record of Leger’s objection to the failure of the trial judge, Trudy White, to instruct the jury with Leger’s proposed jury instructions.
“However, it has been determined that defendant’s objection is in the record. Nevertheless, uncertainty remains whether defendant’s proposed instructions are in the record,” the justices wrote.
Leger and Kelsye Hall, of Baton Rouge, were engaged in a reckless and high-speed game of “cat and mouse,” or road rage, on I-10 West when Leger’s pickup spun out of control, crossed the grassy median and smashed head-on into a car driven by Effie Fontenot, 29, of Prairieville.
Fontenot and her three sons — Austin Fontenot, 3, Hunter Johnson, 7, and Keagan Fontenot, 11 — were killed, as was Kimberly Stagg, 19, also of Prairieville.
Leger was convicted by a jury in 2014 on five counts of vehicular homicide, which involves intoxication. Hall was found guilty in 2013 on five counts of negligent homicide, which does not involve intoxication, and sentenced to two years in prison.