On Sunday afternoon, deputies say, 19-year-old Justin Stoute gunned the engine of his pickup at two teenagers who stood feet ahead of him in a home’s front yard off Hooper Road.
The two had been Stoute’s friends until a falling-out in September, family members said. One of them is his 16-year-old neighbor, who used to ride bikes with Stoute when they were children.
But disagreements among the three have escalated. In the past two months, Stoute bonded out of jail twice for trying to kill one of the teens and threatening to kill the other. In the initial incident, deputies say Stoute and one of his former friends, also 19, exchanged gunfire.
The argument on Sunday boiled over once again. The truck’s tires squealing, Stoute charged the white truck through the home’s front lawn as the teens dove out of the way, according to an affidavit of probable cause. Stoute struck a trash can, narrowly missed a mailbox and swerved back out onto the road, the affidavit says.
Now he sits in jail facing attempted second-degree murder counts from two separate incidents, with bail set at $110,000.
“When he doesn’t hate you, he’s pretty cool,” said the father of the 16-year-old boy whom Stoute is accused of trying to run over.
When contacted by phone, Stoute’s grandmother acknowledged she was related to him, but declined to provide her name. “He’s been framed,” she said. “We’re very upset over this.”
The arguments began soon after Stoute had a falling-out with Clint Baldwin Jr., 19, and the 16-year-old boy, according to the boy’s father. The father, who said he didn’t want to be named out of fear of retaliation, didn’t know what the fight was about, but added, “It wasn’t anything serious.”
Tensions grew more serious in mid-September when, according to the boy’s father, Stoute came by their home and pointed a gun at his son before driving off while firing a round.
In retaliation, Baldwin drove to meet Stoute for a fight two days later, the boy’s father said.
In an arrest affidavit, deputies provided a different account. They say that Stoute and others were standing outside a home on Joor Road near the Comite River when Baldwin drove up with the 16-year-old boy and started firing shots back and forth with Stoute.
The 16-year-old’s father disputes the police account, saying his son was not in the car that night.
While it isn’t clear who fired the first shots, deputies say Baldwin emptied his clip at Stoute, drove away and reloaded, then circled back and emptied the second clip, the affidavit says.
Stoute fled the scene, but later that day he admitted to deputies that he, too, fired his gun, and even displayed text messages that he sent from his phone, one of which read, “You don’t want none of this glock.” Despite the number of shots fired, the affidavit provides no indication that anybody was wounded.
Stoute, 808 Jim Price Road, was booked on counts of attempted second-degree murder and illegal use of a weapon. His bail was set at $70,000, and two days after his arrest he paid a commercial surety through Bail One bail bonds, records show.
That same day, deputies found Baldwin, the other shooter, at his home and arrested him. He posted an $80,000 bond about a month later on Oct. 18. Baldwin, 11158 Plank Road, Apt. 6, declined to comment through a family member.
After the shooting incident in September, Stoute began squealing his tires in front of the boy’s home when he would drive by — on a daily basis, sometimes more than once a day, the father said. But those incidents didn’t seem serious enough to call police about.
“I’m not going to call the cops on him every time he’s squealing tires,” he said. “I’m biting my lip, saying, ‘Don’t feed the fire.’ I’m not like that.”
Less than a month later, on Oct. 28, the alleged threats got more direct. Stoute ran from where he lives with his grandparents to the boy’s house, shouting threats, according to a Sheriff’s Office affidavit. Stoute’s grandfather, who was unable to keep up with Stoute on foot, got inside his car and followed alongside him in the road while trying to tell him to stop, family members say.
Stoute wouldn’t stop until he reached the boy’s front lawn, where he kept shouting that he was going to hurt the boy and his family, the affidavit says. When Stoute finally left, he kicked over a trash can.
Stoute was arrested again and booked for the second time into Parish Prison. His bail was only $2,100, as he faced only misdemeanor accusations of disturbing the peace, simple assault, remaining after forbidden and criminal mischief. He bonded out the same day.
The tire-squealing incidents continued, the 16-year-old boy’s father said. But in the most recent incident less than three weeks later, on Sunday, deputies say Stoute did not just squeal his tires. He allegedly gunned the engine, sending his truck into the grassy front lawn and toward the boy and Baldwin, the affidavit says. The two had to jump out of the way before Stoute swerved back onto the road, striking a trash can once again and narrowly missing a mailbox, according to the affidavit.
This time Stoute’s bail was set at $110,000 when he was booked Sunday on two counts of attempted second-degree murder and reckless operation.
“This guy has three attempted second-degree murder charges,” the boy’s father said. “Why would you give that kid another bond? He proved that he cannot be trusted.”
Stoute’s grandmother said they were preparing to post another bond to get him out, although they weren’t sure when that would be.
She added, “He’s sitting in jail, and they’re out running the roads,” she said of the other boys. “He’s a teenager, but he’s paying for this. And he didn’t have to.”
Follow Daniel Bethencourt on Twitter, @_dbethencourt.