Kevin Daigle was found guilty Tuesday of the first-degree murder of Louisiana State Trooper Steven Vincent, who was shot and killed in 2015 when he stopped to help Daigle on the side of the road.
The 12-person jury deliberated briefly after Tuesday’s closing arguments, according to KATC. The sentencing portion of the trial will begin 10 a.m. Wednesday, when the jury will decide whether Daigle will spend life in prison or face the death penalty, according to the Calcasieu Parish District Attorney’s Office.
The state is pushing for the death penalty. Calcasieu Parish District Attorney John DeRosier said the case was a “stone-cold first-degree murder” while speaking outside the courthouse after the verdict, KATC reported.
"I don't relish the concept of bringing a first-degree murder and asking for the death penalty, but it is reasonable, it's appropriate and it is justified in this case," DeRosier said.
The capital case was moved from Calcasieu Parish to Lafayette to ensure a fair trial. The judge and prosecutors came from the 14th Judicial District, while the jurors were selected from Lafayette Parish.
Daigle, now 57, shot and killed Vincent when the trooper stopped to help Daigle after his vehicle became stuck in a ditch along La. 14 near Bell City. State police said Vincent and Daigle’s encounter began when Vincent matched the Dodge pickup truck Daigle was driving to a report of an erratic driver, according to news reports at the time.
During testimony Monday, prosecutors showed dash cam footage from Vincent’s police vehicle. The video showed Daigle shoot Vincent in the head with a sawed-off shotgun. Afterward, he leaned over the trooper and asked, “Are you still alive?”
Daigle was apprehended when three passersby tackled him and called for help, according to news reports at the time.
The trooper died the day after at a Lake Charles hospital. Vincent was 43 years old, married and the father of a then 9-year-old son.
Daigle's defense team said his actions were fueled by an overwhelming mix of alcohol and drugs that caused him to black out and lose the ability to make conscious decisions. They repeatedly stated Daigle was "out of his mind" on the day Vincent was killed, KATC reported.
Defense attorneys pleaded with jurors to show mercy in their closing arguments.
"Human beings are capable of immaculate grace and ultimate redemption," said Caitlin Graham, who represented Daigle on behalf of the Baton Rouge Capital Conflict Office. "We are asking you today to turn to your better angels and consider what you have heard in the last few days in the same framework."
Prosecutors countered that Daigle’s impairment didn’t absolve him of responsibility.
"The notion that Daigle did not know what he was doing is preposterous," said Lea Hall, the chief prosecutor in the case, in the state's closing arguments. "What I find in this business is a lot of appeals to sympathy and mercy. What is lacking is the true execution of justice."
DeRosier said after the verdict the defense’s argument that Daigle was drunk and didn't know what he was doing didn't surprise him.
"They had no other defense, they had to come up with something," he said. "They had to try to conjure up some kind of defense to this unspeakable act."