Defense lawyer: Leger not at fault in crash that killed five

Other driver convicted in August bench trial

A St. Landry Parish man awaiting trial in April on five counts of vehicular homicide did not cause a fiery Interstate 10 crash in Baton Rouge that killed two adults and three young children in 2011, his attorney said Tuesday.

Tommy Damico, who represents David Leger, claimed the fault lies with Kelsye Hall, 24, of Baton Rouge, who was convicted in August on five counts of negligent homicide in the alleged road-rage wreck.

State District Judge Trudy White, who found Hall guilty at the conclusion of a bench trial, sentenced her to two years in prison Oct. 22.

“She was the proximate cause of the accident,” Damico said of Hall outside the 19th Judicial District Courthouse after White scheduled Leger’s jury trial for April 28. “She clipped my client and caused him to lose control.”

East Baton Rouge Parish District Attorney Hillar Moore III said afterward the case involves completely separate defendants and entirely different trials.

“Everyone will have their chance to present their facts as they see them,” Moore said.

Leger and Hall were traveling westbound on I-10 when their vehicles came in contact with each other, causing Leger’s pickup to spin out of control and cross the grassy median before colliding with a car driven by Effie Fontenot, 29, of Prairieville.

Killed in the March 13, 2011, crash were Fontenot and Kimberly Stagg, 19, also of Prairieville, and Fontenot’s three young sons: Austin Fontenot, 3; Hunter Johnson, 7; and Keagan Fontenot, 11.

Effie Fontenot and Stagg both worked at Frank’s Restaurant on Airline Highway in Prairieville.

The crash occurred between the Highland Road exit on eastbound I-10 and the Bluff Road overpass.

Leger, 31, of Palmetto, faces five to 30 years in prison on each vehicular homicide count if found guilty as charged.

State Police said he had a blood-alcohol content of 0.10 percent at the time of the crash. In Louisiana, a blood-alcohol level of 0.08 percent is considered presumptive evidence of drunken driving for those 21 and older.

At Hall’s sentencing, White said it was the high-speed “cat-and-mouse play” between Hall and Leger that caused the five deaths. Hall and Leger did not know each other.

Hall’s attorney, Alfred C. Williams, argued at her trial and sentencing that an intoxicated Leger was chasing Hall.

Damico predicted Tuesday that additional facts will come out at Leger’s trial.

“I think the evidence will show the witnesses were wrong about a couple of things,” he added.

Damico also suggested Leger could benefit from Hall’s conviction.

“People knowing she was convicted may very well help our defense,” he said.

State Police Lt. Doug Cain has said previously that witnesses indicated Hall intentionally prevented Leger from passing her vehicle. At one point, Cain said, Hall was driving on the center line to keep Leger from passing on either side.

When Leger drove onto the right shoulder of the interstate in an attempt to pass Hall, the rear of his pickup clipped the front of her sport utility vehicle, the trooper said.