Zachary man found guilty in shooting death of football standout

The mother of former Clinton High and Southern University football player Silas Gibbs said the conviction of her son’s killer Thursday means Gibbs and his entire family can rest in peace.

“I got justice! I got justice!” Rosie Triplett cried outside state District Judge Tony Marabella’s courtroom in Baton Rouge moments after Walter Fort was found guilty of second-degree murder in the fatal shooting of her 24-year-old son.

Fort, 24, of Zachary, and Gibbs were riding in a car with two other men on Interstate 110 South near the Chippewa Street exit at the time of March 3, 2012, shooting. Gibbs was shot five times in the head while sitting in the front passenger seat.

The conviction carries an automatic sentence of life in prison.

The jury deliberated for about two hours. The panel’s vote was 11-1.

“The whole family can rest. He (Gibbs) can rest,” Triplett sighed, adding that Gibbs is survived by two daughters, ages 5 and 6.

Prosecutor Kory Tauzin said the state presented overwhelming evidence that Fort committed second-degree murder.

Tauzin was not required to and did not offer the jury a motive for the killing, but Triplett suggested one outside the courtroom.

“He (Fort) did it out of jealousy,” she alleged, noting that Gibbs and Fort were friends and that Fort had previously slept in her house.

Gibbs, a Clinton native living in Baker at the time of his death, was named to The Advocate’s All-Metro football team and was the offensive most valuable player in his district in his junior and senior years in 2006 and 2007. 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.

Fort’s attorney, Tommy Damico, argued to the jury that Fort was justified in shooting Gibbs. Fort testified he shot Gibbs after Gibbs and another man in the car, Donald Aucoin, tried to rob him.

“We gave the jury as much evidence as we could,” Damico said afterward. “He told them he was justified in his actions. They disagreed. We’re disappointed. He’s disappointed.”

Fort, Aucoin and the driver of the car, Gerald Wilson, ran from the scene after the shooting, but Wilson and Aucoin called the police a short time later.

Fort was arrested two days after the shooting in Houston. He was found on the campus of Texas Southern University.

Fort initially gave a campus police officer a fake name, Baton Rouge police have said. Fort testified he fled because he was scared.

Wilson and Aucoin testified Fort shot Gibbs for no apparent reason as the red Ford Mustang raced down I-110 South.

Wilson said he wrestled the pistol away from Fort by biting him on the hand, then tossed the gun over the interstate railing. Police found the gun, which belonged to Fort.