Driver, passenger testify in Fort trial
Walter Fort was sitting directly behind former Southern University football player Silas Gibbs in a speeding car on Interstate 110 when he shot Gibbs for no apparent reason last year, the driver of the car and a passenger testified Wednesday at Fort’s second-degree murder trial.
“No arguing at all. They (Fort and Gibbs) never argued,” said Gerald Wilson Jr., who was driving his girlfriend’s red Ford Mustang in the pre-dawn hours of March 3, 2012, when Gibbs was shot in the front passenger seat.
“We were all laughing. Everything happened so fast. Nobody was arguing,” added Donald Aucoin, who said he was sitting behind Wilson and next to Fort, 24, of Zachary.
Dr. Bruce Wainer, the pathologist who performed the autopsy on Gibbs’ body, told the jury the former Clinton High School star running back was shot five times in the head.
Wilson, who has gun- and drug-related convictions on his record, said Fort was the only person in the car with a gun.
The trial will resume Thursday.
Fort’s attorney, Tommy Damico, argued to the jury Tuesday the shooting was justified.
Damico indicated to the jury Wednesday that Fort told police, “I had to pop a (expletive) because the (expletive) was trying to pop me.”
John Cook, who lives on Calumet Street, not far from the crime scene, testified Fort showed up at his house around 2:30 a.m. or 3 a.m. on March 3, 2012 — wearing only boxer shorts — and essentially told him the same thing that Damico told jurors. Cook said Fort is a friend of his son’s. He said he considers Fort a member of the family.
Wilson, of Baton Rouge, testified in state District Judge Tony Marabella’s courtroom that he was racing a gray Dodge Charger when shots rang out inside the Mustang near the Chippewa Street exit on I-110 South.
“I hear gunshots. I look over. The passenger side window is shattered. I touch Silas. When I saw him slumped over, I immediately put on the brakes,” Wilson recalled. “He (Fort) had a look on his face. I can’t describe it.”
Wilson testified he turned around and grabbed for the gun and eventually wrestled it away from Fort by biting Fort’s hand.
Jurors were shown a photograph of the mark on Fort’s hand Tuesday.
Wilson said he tossed the gun over the interstate railing, ran to a nearby fast-food restaurant and called police. The gun was recovered by police.
Aucoin, also of Baton Rouge, said the Mustang’s occupants “were just riding and smoking (marijuana) and listening to music” when things changed drastically.
“He (Fort) leaned on me and he started shooting Silas,” Aucoin testified. “I grabbed Walter’s hands. We’re in the car wrestling for the gun.”
After running from the scene, Aucoin likewise called the police to report the shooting.
Wilson said he and his passengers were heading to south Baton Rouge to buy cocaine, but Aucoin said the four were heading to the downtown area to go to some nightclubs and possibly a casino.
Prosecutor Kory Tauzin is asking the jury to convict Fort of second-degree murder, which would carry an automatic sentence of life in prison.
Gibbs, 24, of Baker, was named to The Advocate’s All-Metro football team and was the offensive Most Valuable Player in his district in 2006 and 2007, his junior and senior years. He rushed for 1,619 yards and 27 touchdowns on 217 carries as a senior, helping Clinton to the Class 2A semifinals.
Gibbs ran for 277 yards for Southern in 2008 but was academically ineligible in 2009 — the year his father died — before leaving the team in 2010.