Wearing a pair of black latex gloves, Detective Jacqueline Smith Theriot used scissors to cut open envelopes Tuesday morning on the witness stand of a 15th Judicial District courtroom.
Theriot, a crime scene investigator for the Lafayette Parish Sheriff’s Office, removed used bullets, casings and cartridges. She did the same for several more envelopes, each of which contained a piece of physical evidence from the night Lafayette boxer Brandon Broussard was ambushed in the driveway of his girlfriend’s home as he exited his truck.
Some of the bullet fragments from a .40 caliber pistol shown to the jury came not from the crime scene but from the lab where Broussard's autopsy was done.
At the request of state prosecutor Alisa Gothreaux, Theriot also cut open two more evidence envelopes for the homicide investigation. These were empty.
Each envelope once contained a cotton tip swab from the blue latex glove tip investigators say was found at the scene of the crime. One swab was used for the exterior of the glove tip and the other for the interior. Both swabs were sent to the Acadiana Crime Lab for analysis.
Later, defense attorneys would ask why the detective was cutting open empty evidence envelopes that revealed nothing for the jury.
Digital photos of the bullets, casings and cartridges were also shown to the jury from the night of the shooting. A small pool of blood could be seen under one of the used cartridges in a photograph with a yellow evidence marker from the crime scene.
Tuesday afternoon, Agent Randy Meche of the Sheriff's Office also wore black gloves as he removed several more pieces of evidence to show the jury. These pieces of evidence weren't recovered from the crime scene or the autopsy. Instead, they were collected a month after the homicide from Shavis Toby's home.
Among the evidence collected from the Youngsville home that Meche showed to the jury include .40 caliber cartridges, blue latex gloves, black T-shirts, a black hoodie, black boots, black tennis shoes, a yellow box cutter and camouflage shorts.
The trial of Carlos Toby and Shavis Toby is unusual in that it has two defendants who are accused of plotting and killing Broussard, a professional boxer, in a single trial.
The brothers have been jailed without bond since their November 2018 arrests in connection to Broussard's murder. They were indicted on one count each of second-degree murder and criminal conspiracy to commit second-degree murder. They pleaded not guilty to the charges.
The tension between the state and defense attorneys grew Tuesday over which pieces of the state's evidence were relevant to the case and which pieces might prejudice the jury against the Toby brothers.
Gothreaux and Roya Boustany, the other state prosecutor on the case, argue that Carlos Toby was the thinker and Shavis Toby was the actor who carried out the October 13, 2018, shooting in retaliation for the nightclub fight two weeks prior. Broussard was shot to death in front of his girlfriend's 4-year-old child in the driveway of her home.
Defense attorneys Todd Clemons and Kevin Boshea, representing Carlos Toby and Shavis Toby, respectively, agree that Broussard's murder was gruesome but say their clients aren't behind it. They've argued that the state's evidence is circumstantial, pointing out inconsistencies in witness testimonies and questioning law enforcement on their investigative techniques.
On Monday afternoon, the defense attorneys asked Judge Royale Colbert to allow the Toby brothers to have a pen and paper in their jail cells to take notes to and from the courtroom about their case. Colbert approved the request.
Before the jury was seated Tuesday morning, however, Clemons told the judge the defendants still weren’t allowed pen and paper in their cells, even after he approved the request.
Clemons said it was not only a violation of what the court ordered, but it also was a violation of the sixth amendment right to communicate with their lawyers and actively participate in their trial.
“You are absolutely right,” Colbert told Clemons, assuring him the matter would be properly handled.
The trial, which began June 21, is expected to resume Wednesday morning.