Teen could face death penalty
LAFAYETTE — Seth Fontenot was charged with capital murder Thursday in the Feb. 10 killing of high school freshman Austin Rivault, who died after a bullet struck him as he and two friends fled from Fontenot’s property.
A Lafayette Parish grand jury on Thursday indicted Fontenot, an 18-year-old freshman accounting student at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, on one count of first-degree murder and two counts of attempted first-degree murder.
Rivault’s friends Cole Kelley and William Bellamy, both 15, were identified in the indictment as the injured teens who were shot in the early morning incident in south Lafayette.
Fontenot’s family members have said the shooting occurred after his truck had been broken into several times.
Fontenot’s attorney, Thomas Guilbeau, did not immediately return a call seeking comment Thursday.
Prosecutors Jay Prather and Mark Garber, both assistant district attorneys for Lafayette Parish, were out of the office Thursday afternoon and unavailable for comment, their office said.
The grand jury convened Thursday morning specifically for the capital murder case the District Attorney’s Office has worked up against Fontenot, who was arrested at his workplace less than 10 hours after the 2 a.m. incident on Feb. 10.
The indictment was handed up just after 2 p.m. Thursday.
On Wednesday, Fontenot, handcuffed and in tears, appeared in Judge Herman Clause’s courtroom for a bond-reduction hearing. But the hearing never got going as Clause disclosed some distant connections he has to people involved in the case.
Prather and Garber filed a motion asking that Clause recuse himself from the case. The prosecutors said the capital murder case will be highly scrutinized at some point by appellate judges.
A hearing on their motion to recuse will be conducted by Judge Marilyn Castle at 1:30 p.m. Feb. 27, the Lafayette Parish Clerk of Court’s Office said.
Between 150 and 200 people attended the hearing Wednesday, some supporting Fontenot, others sitting behind the Rivault family.
Members of the families and some of their supporters said outside the courtroom that they would not talk about the case to media.
Lafayette police who searched Fontenot’s truck found a Beretta handgun, according to an affidavit written by a detective. The document didn’t note the weapon’s caliber.
Fontenot is being held in lieu of $500,000 bail on each attempted murder charge. No bail will be set on the first-degree murder charge.
Rivault, Kelley and Bellamy were in a truck at 2 a.m. on Feb. 10 when Fontenot fired on them as they rode away from Fontenot’s home on Green Meadow Road, police said.
Rivault, Kelley and Bellamy drove to Our Lady of Lourdes Medical Center shortly after the shooting at Fontenot’s home. Hospital personnel called Lafayette police, the department said the day of the shooting.
Fontenot, his sister Kailey Fontenot and Guilbeau, his attorney, have said Fontenot didn’t mean to kill anyone.
“Mr. Fontenot stated that his intentions were to only scare the victims, not to inflict bodily harm and/or death,” Detective Larry Theriot wrote in the affidavit used in Fontenot’s arrest.