Seth Fontenot Takes The Stand
Seth Fontenot spent nearly six hours on the stand during his first-degree murder trial Monday.
Defense attorney Thomas Guilbeau began the day's questioning by asking Fontenot to describe the setting at 132 Green Meadow Lane, Fontenot's former home, where the shooting took place. Then the defendant explained, in detail, the events that occurred the night of the shooting.
He said the sound of "popping" door handles awoke him at around 1:45 a.m. on Feb. 10, 2013. Having been the victim of previous vehicle break-ins, Fontenot sprung to action with the sounds. After observing from his dining room window two individuals running from near his parked 2007 Chevrolet Avalanche, Fontenot said he grabbed his 9mm pistol, put on his shoes and ran outside. He then said he saw a truck's headlights turn on and head in his direction while he was crouching in his yard. After loudly yelling, "Freeze! Stop! Freeze! Stop!," Fontenot said the vehicle continued towards him. Fontenot testified that immediately after the truck passed, he shot three times at the truck, aiming either for the front driver's side tire or the truck's tailgate.
"I was frustrated," Fontenot told Guilbeau, when asked what was going through his head as he had his gun drawn that evening. "There was a little anger about being the victim of possible burglaries."
Guilbeau asked Fontenot several times during the first hour of questioning about his intent when he fired the three shots that killed Austin Rivault and injured Cole Kelley and William Bellamy. The 21-year-old defendant told the court his heart was beating out of his chest and adrenaline was pumping when he shot the pistol.
Fontenot stammered and seemed remorseful in the witness stand when asked what he felt about having killed Rivault.
"I couldn't believe it," Fontenot said, as he was fighting back tears."I feel devastated, shocked. I feel like a monster. There's not a day that goes by that I don't think about Austin."
Testimony was stalled several times during the trial as Prather objected to Guilbeau's questioning process that involved Fontenot reciting several passages from the 65-page interrogation transcript between Fontenot and Lafayette Police Department Detective Larry Theriot on Feb. 10, 2013. Rubin allowed some of the "reading lesson," as Prather referred to it, to continue, but only after excusing the jury twice as the court conferred.
Judge Edward Rubin did not grant permission to the defense to show the jury the video of the 75-min interrogation that was cited numerous times, thus far, during the trial. But Prather claimed that by reading the transcript the defense was simply replacing the video with a recitation.
Prather began his cross examination of Fontenot pointing out inconsistencies of the initial interrogation and Fontenot testimony that Fontenot noted may have been "mistranscribed."
Prather's cross examination of the defendant will resume at 9:30 Tuesday morning.