Jury Hears Forensic, Ballistics Experts At Fontenot Trial
Jury members heard testimony from several forensic and firearm experts this afternoon at the Seth Fontenot first-degree murder trial.
Acadiana Crime Lab DNA analyst Bethany Harris recalled to the jury the results of the DNA swabs that were taken from Fontenot's pickup truck that was allegedly being robbed during the night of the shooting that killed teenager Austin Rivault. She told the court the data she collected ruled out any DNA traces left on the handles of the defendant's truck from the three teenagers shot that evening. Defense Attorney Thomas Guilbeau cross examined the witness who testified that anyone wearing gloves, or otherwise protecting their hands, when the vehicle was touched, they would not leave traces of DNA on the vehicle.
The jury was then shown photographs collected by forensic pathologist Dr. Christopher Tape. Some jury members grimaced, while the victims' family members fought back tears, at the still photos of the deceased Austin Rivault that showed the entrance and exit wounds of a bullet that Tate examined in his forensic examinations. His investigation concluded that Rivault's cause of death was a gunshot wound to the head in the manner of homicide.
The defense's first witness of the trial, Richard Ernest, a forensic ballistics and firearms expert, testified that proper measurement techniques were not taken on the part of the Lafayette Police detectives when examining the victims' vehicle. He also told the court that the bullet holes left in the vehicle were approximately six inches above the truck's tailgate that Fontenot's defense has continuously mentioned as his intended target. He said slight movements of the firearm could cause great variations in the bullets trajectory. He added that with the darkness of the environment, the quickly moving vehicle and the shooter's movements may create inaccuracies when firing the Beretta 9 mm that was used on Feb. 10, 2013.
Fontenot is facing an automatic life sentence if the jury finds Fontenot guilty of the pending first-degree murder charge for killing Austin Rivault. He also faces two charges of attempted first-degree murder for wounding then 15-year-olds Cole Kelley and William Bellamy.
Testimony will continue Monday morning at 10:45. Judge Edward Rubin told the court that testimony should conclude on Tuesday.