GONZALES — The trial of a 16-year-old charged with second-degree murder in the stabbing death of an 18-year-old in Ascension Parish last October has been set for Sept. 13, but it’s not yet clear where the trial will be held.
Attorney Jarret Ambeau, the lawyer for the defendant, Jacob Westbrook, filed a motion in February for a change of venue, citing statements made by Ascension Parish Sheriff Jeff Wiley at a press conference following Westbrook’s arrest.
Judge Jason Verdigets of the 23rd Judicial District Court, however, has sealed court records and placed a gag order on all parties in the case, so the outcome of that change-of-venue request isn’t known.
At a Monday hearing at the parish courthouse in Gonzales, when he set the trial date, Verdigets gave attorneys in the case seven days to go into the court records and redact the names of juveniles; following that, Verdigets said, he would unseal court records.
Westbrook is accused of fatally stabbing Todd Toups Sr. on Oct. 10, 2015, when the two were at a trailer home in the Gonzales area, with other teens.
Westbrook has pleaded not guilty, claiming the stabbing was in self-defense.