Kaplan man faces death or life in prison
LAFAYETTE — A state district judge Monday postponed until next summer the death penalty trial of a Kaplan man accused of killing a pizza delivery driver four years ago.
Aaron Orlando Richards, 38, was scheduled to stand trial July 7 on a first-degree murder charge. Richards is accused of stabbing Timothy Falgout to death in March 2010 as the Pizza Hut driver was making a delivery to a home on Rue Canard in Lafayette Parish.
If found guilty, Richards faces the death penalty or life in prison.
Judge Edward Broussard postponed the trial because of a delay in getting government money to pay to retest DNA found at the crime scene. Initial DNA tests implicated Richards.
Broussard set the new trial for July 6, 2015.
Last year, through defense attorney Harold Register, Richards requested money from the Lafayette Parish Public Defender’s Office to pay for a DNA expert to re-examine the evidence.
Paul Marx, who heads the Parish Public Defender’s Office, testified Monday that money in local and state indigent defender agencies ran dry in 2013 and jammed up the request-for-money pipeline.
Marx said the money for the DNA test should become available this summer. He said the expert could be hired by the time the District Attorney’s Office hands over the evidence.
The trial delay rankled Assistant District Attorney Cynthia Simon, who said the first-degree murder trial date originally was set in March 2013. She said Register had plenty of time to apply for expert witness money.
Register countered that there was a reason he and Richards waited before deciding to request DNA retest money. “We made the decision as we got more into the case,” he said.
Richards is accused of killing Falgout with the help of Marcus Joseph Feast. Feast is awaiting trial on charges of principal to first-degree murder and unauthorized use of an access card.
Feast’s trial date has not been set, according to the Lafayette Parish Clerk of Court’s Office.
Simon told Judge Broussard that she would not offer to reduce Richards’ first-degree murder charge to second-degree — which carries the same life-in-prison sentence Richards is serving now — unless the longtime felon agrees to plead and forgo a trial.
Richards, who wore an orange prison suit Monday, his hands and feet bound by metal, is serving a life sentence for being a habitual offender for committing three violent crimes.
Asked Monday if he wanted to comment, Richards’ two prison guards and Register answered for him: “No,” they said.