Seth Fontenot re-sentenced to year-plus of hard labor in 2013 shooting death of 15-year-old _lowres

Advocate staff photo by LESLIE WESTBROOK -- Seth Fontenot is escorted into the Lafayette Parish Courthouse Thursday, July 23, 2015, for a re-sentencing hearing.

Prosecutors on Tuesday dropped drug charges against Seth Paul Fontenot, ending a case that arose soon after his arrest in the high-profile shooting death of 15-year-old Austin Rivault in 2013.

The dismissal came the day Fontenot was set for trial on two counts of distribution of amphetamines for allegedly selling prescription drugs in 2012 to two students at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, where Fontenot was a freshman majoring in accounting at the time.

The drug case had no relation to the shooting investigation, but it could have meant additional penalties for Fontenot.

He had faced life in prison on a first-degree murder charge in Rivault's death but instead was sentenced to 13 months months after a jury in 2015 convicted him on the lesser charge of manslaughter. 

Prosecutors unsuccessfully appealed the sentence as too lenient.

The lingering drug case suffered from a critical evidence problem.

Investigators found two witnesses who alleged Fontenot had sold them the prescription drugs, but no drugs were actually recovered, according to court documents.

"There just was not sufficient evidence," 15th Judicial District Attorney Keith Stutes said Tuesday. "… It simply, at this point, isn't enough."

Fontenot was accused of shooting Rivault and wounding two other 15-year-olds in the early morning hours of Feb. 10, 2013, outside of his family's home on Green Meadow Road.

Fontenot testified at his 2015 trial that he believed the teenagers were trying to break into his truck and that he fired only to scare them.

A jury deliberated two hours before deciding against first- or second-degree murder charges, convicting him instead of manslaughter.

Fontenot, who characterized the shootings as a tragic accident, faced up to 40 years in prison on the charge

Fifteenth Judicial District Judge Edward Rubin sentenced Fontenot to 13 months, noting, among other things, that Fontenot was 18 years old at the time of the shooting.

He was released last year.

Fontenot's defense attorney, Thomas Guilbeau, said his client, who is now 23, has since returned to school and is doing well in his studies.

"He went to jail. He did his time," Guilbeau said. "He is very grateful to have this second chance."

Follow Richard Burgess on Twitter, @rbb100.​