Attorney seeks reduced bail for man accused in shooting

He says client in slaying was ‘overcharged’

Seth Fontenot
Seth Fontenot

An attorney for a man arrested in the killing one teen and wounding of two others in a shooting Sunday is arguing in court papers that the charges against his client are too severe and that his bail should be reduced.

“The proof is not evident and the presumption not great that the defendant is guilty of first-degree murder or attempted first-degree murder,” attorney Thomas Guilbeau said in papers filed Wednesday on behalf of his client, Seth Fontenot.

Fontenot was arrested hours after he allegedly fired a gun at a pickup, wounding two teens and killing a third.

Lafayette police are holding Fontenot, 18, on two counts of attempted first-degree murder and one count of first degree murder.

St. Thomas More High School freshman Austin Rivault, 15, was killed. Two other 15-year-olds, whose identities were not released by police, were wounded.

Fontenot appeared Wednesday at a court hearing via a video link from the Lafayette Parish Correctional Center. From his 15th District courtroom, Commissioner Thomas J. Frederick told Fontenot there was no bail for the first-degree murder charge, and that each of the attempted murder charges carry a bail amount of $500,000.

Guilbeau said police have overreached.

He said he believes his client will be charged with lesser offenses once the Lafayette Parish District Attorney’s Office sees the evidence.

“I feel strongly that my client has been way, way, way overcharged,” Guilbeau said.

In motions filed Wednesday, Guilbeau asks for a probable cause hearing and requests that Fontenot’s bail be reduced to $25,000 for the murder charge, and that each attempted murder charge carry a bail amount of $12,500.

Guilbeau said a 15th District judge would be assigned the case on Thursday.

Fontenot was arrested Sunday at his job at a restaurant in River Ranch, where Lafayette police detectives searched his 2007 Chevrolet pickup and found a Beretta semiautomatic handgun in the console, according to the affidavit used for Fontenot’s arrest.

The vehicle search was conducted at just before noon Sunday, less than 10 hours after officials at Our Lady of Lourdes Medical Center contacted police at 2:15 a.m. about three shooting victims at the hospital.

The shooting occurred in the 100 block of Green Meadow Road in south Lafayette off Johnston Street, where Fontenot lived and where his truck had been broken into multiple times.

Police recovered three bullet casings in a yard on the road, and Fontenot told investigators that he shot the weapon three times, according to the affidavit.

“While interviewing Mr. Fontenot, he confessed to firing his gun at a fleeing vehicle, which he believed to contain the suspects he had seen on his property as well as his neighbors’ property at the time of the incident,” according to the affidavit, written by Detective Larry Theriot.

Rivault was killed by a bullet to the back of his head, another youth was hit in the ankle and the third was struck in the back of his neck, the affidavit said. Both injured 15-year-olds were hospitalized, according to the affidavit.

“Mr. Fontenot stated that his intentions were to only scare the victims, not to inflict bodily harm and/or death,” Theriot wrote.

Funeral services for Rivault will be at 11 a.m. Friday at Our Lady of Fatima Catholic Church in Lafayette, with burial following at St. Alphonsus Cemetery Mausoleum in Maurice.

“Austin was a dynamo, small in stature but big in living life to its fullest and endearing himself to all who knew him,” reads a line in the obituary. “His fishing skills were legendary, as he always caught the most and could spend hours indulging in the sport.”

A Facebook page titled RIP Austin Rivault shows a photo of the baby-faced youngster with his parents and older brother and sister.

According to the St. Thomas More High School website, Austin was a member of the school’s lacrosse team, where he wore number 41.