James_Batiste_booking

James Batiste

A Prairieville man was sentenced to 25 years in state prison over a 2018 shooting at the Cabela's shopping center off Interstate 10 in Gonzales that severely injured another.

An Ascension Parish jury had found James Batiste III, 34, guilty of attempted second-degree murder on July 15 following a three-day trial.

Prosecutors had accused Batiste of getting out of his vehicle on July 1, 2018, outside the former Quaker Steak & Lube restaurant in the Gonzales shopping center and shooting several times at another man with a .45-caliber semi-automatic pistol.

The man, who had been speaking with Batiste, was hit in the shoulder and the back as he tried to flee, prosecutors have said.

Batiste also fled the scene but was later arrested by Gonzales police officers, prosecutors in the 23rd Judicial District Attorney's Office have said. The man who was shot was taken to a local hospital but recovered from his injuries.

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At trial, Batiste testified on his own behalf, claiming self-defense for himself and his fiancée in the shooting. He repeated those claims in a jailhouse letter sent to 23rd Judicial District Judge Jason Verdigets after the conviction.

His defense attorney Muriel Van Horn said on Tuesday that Batiste testified that he believed a friend with whom he had been trying to distance himself had set him up for an armed robbery and appeared in the back seat of his car as Batiste was dropping off a relative. That scared Batiste and he shot the friend, who had a knife in his possession, Van Horn said.

"One might say he overreacted," Van Horn said. "I think the jury felt the same way."

Batiste had faced up to 50 years in state prison with his conviction. On Monday, Verdigets gave him half of the maximum sentence but without the chance for probation or parole.

Tyler Cavalier, spokesman for District Attorney Ricky Babin, didn't return an email for comment Tuesday.


Email David J. Mitchell at dmitchell@theadvocate.com

Follow David J. Mitchell on Twitter, @NewsieDave.