GONZALES — A 16-year-old arrested in the stabbing death of a St. Amant teen on Saturday will be tried as an adult on a count of second-degree murder, a state judge ruled Wednesday.
Judge Jason Verdigets of the 23rd Judicial District ruled Jacob Westbrook will be tried as an adult in the stabbing death of Todd Toups, 18, during a hearing in Gonzales.
The judge ordered Westbrook, who had been in the Assumption Parish Youth Detention Center, be moved to the Ascension Parish Prison in Donaldsonville. At the request of the defense attorney, the teenager will be kept in protective custody at the jail, Veridgets said.
Toups, a high school senior, was killed when he tried to help a St. Amant High School student who had told him she had no way to get to the homecoming dance Saturday night, Ascension Parish Sheriff Jeff Wiley said Tuesday.
Todd “T.J.” Toups Jr., 18, a senior at St. Amant High School who led a church youth group and was active in theater and choir at school, was planning to meet his own date at the school dance, Wiley said at a news conference in Gonzales.
He had offered to give a choir member a ride to homecoming after the 14-year-old girl told him that she didn’t have a ride to the dance.
Toups stopped by her home Saturday afternoon to make sure things were still on track for her to go, Wiley said.
A few minutes later, Wiley said, the teenager was dead from a stab wound.
The 16-year-old Baton Rouge boy accused of killing Toups had recently transferred from St. Amant High School to Woodlawn High School.
Wiley said the stabbing is tied to an Oct. 7 incident at St. Amant High School when Toups was confronted by the stepsister of the girl whom he planned to give a ride to the homecoming dance.
The stepsister told Toups, who had never met her before, “I don’t like you. You better not hurt my sister or I’ll stab you,” Wiley said.
Several people heard her say it, the sheriff said.
On Saturday afternoon, Toups sent a text message to the 14-year-old, saying he was going to drop by her home in Cobb’s Trailer Park on Roddy Road.
The girl and her stepsister, who had made the threat, were at another mobile home in the park getting their hair done for the dance when Toups showed up. They walked back to their home and had Toups come inside, Wiley said.
The stepsister’s boyfriend was also there, Wiley said.
Toups was talking to the two girls at the mobile home when, at one point, jokingly, he asked the stepsister, “Well, are you going to stab me?” Wiley said.
The stepsister answered, “Well, maybe I will,” the sheriff said.
Before she could say anything else, her “boyfriend came around the corner and said, ‘If she won’t, I will,’ ” Wiley said.
The chatter between Toups and the girls ended.
“Our killer walks in full view of three individuals,” Wiley said, “arms himself with a black-handled steak knife and starts jabbing at Todd.”
Wiley said Toups tried to defend himself.
“Todd parries a jab and pushes” the boyfriend, who stabbed Toups in the rib cage, Wiley said.
Toups managed to walk outside of the mobile home and onto the porch steps, where he fell to the ground, the sheriff said.
Toups was taken to Our Lady of the Lake Regional Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead.
Two adults in the mobile home — the mothers of the two girls — were in the back of the home, sleeping or watching TV at the time of the stabbing, Wiley said.
Toups had three older sisters.
“He was the baby of the family and the only grandson on this side of the family,” said Susan Toups, the wife of Todd’s paternal grandfather, Rob Toups.
Susan Toups said Todd Toups had attended the funeral of his maternal grandfather, Rodney Bergeron, in Baton Rouge earlier Saturday.
“He was a good kid. He wasn’t in the party scene. He was a good kid,” she said.
The 16-year-old boy was arrested on a count of second-degree murder and is in custody in the Assumption Parish Youth Detention Center, the sheriff said.
“This one hurt because of the nonsense of it, the bizarre nature. It’s almost like evil met good,” Wiley said of the case.
Wiley said a hearing will be held Wednesday in 23rd Judicial District Judge Jason Verdiget’s courtroom to determine if the boy will be tried as an adult.
The Sheriff’s Office, Wiley said, will work to “do our part to make this killer accountable.”