LAFAYETTE — A Lafayette Parish jury on Wednesday convicted a second man charged in the February 2009 killing and armed robbery of a Lafayette cab driver.
The jury deliberated for about 90 minutes before returning a unanimous guilty verdict against 22-year-old Kevin Gildhouse.
Gildhouse’s conviction follows the Aug. 15 conviction of 22-year-old Aaron Francois, who, along with Gildhouse, was charged with robbing and fatally shooting Wallace “Wally” Badeaux, 33, a cabdriver for Dixie Cab Co., on Feb. 23, 2009, at 802 Fox Run Road.
Gildhouse was charged with second degree murder.
“I firmly believe that justice has been served,” prosecutor Pat Magee said after the trial.
The jury reached a just verdict and found justice for Badeaux’s family, Magee said.
Gildhouse will serve an automatic life sentence plus an additional five years stemming from his plea prior to the trial on one charge of simple escape, Magee said.
Gildhouse’s defense attorney, Thomas Alonzo, said the jury found his client guilty by virtue of his participation in the armed robbery, not of having specifically intended to kill the victim.
“I think he received a fair trial,” Alonzo said. “I think the entire Gildhouse family, including Kevin Gildhouse, felt very sorry for what happened to that whole family and Mr. Badeaux’s daughter.”
During closing arguments Wednesday, Magee said Badeaux died from a .357-caliber gunshot wound to the neck.
Badeaux had $96.75 in taxi fares, the prosecutor said.
Gildhouse took the stand Wednesday and blamed Francois for the armed robbery and the killing. Gildhouse frequently cried as Alonzo questioned him about his involvement.
“I didn’t shoot nobody. I didn’t rob nobody, but I turned my back on somebody I could have helped,”Gildhouse said
“I could have done something to take control of the situation. I turned my back on Wally and now he’s dead,” Gildhouse said in later testimony.
Gildhouse testified that he lied to authorities during their interviews with him because he was scared of facing a possible death penalty or life in prison. He said his testimony Wednesday was the first time he had told the whole truth.
Gildhouse’s testimony directly contradicted Francois’statements to law enforcement authorities.
During Francois’ trial, jurors were shown a taped interview with Francois in which he confessed to Lafayette Parish Sheriff’s Office detectives that the killing was supposed to be a clean robbery.
Francois told detectives that Gildhouse shot Badeaux.
During cross examination Wednesday, Magee, the prosecutor, asked Gildhouse how many times he changed his story.
Gildhouse said he did not know.
“The evidence is overwhelming that Kevin Gildhouse is just as complicit as Aaron Francois in this man’s death,”Magee told jurors during closing arguments.
Magee said Gildhouse lied about his initial involvement in the crime and his involvement in disposing of the weapon.
Gildhouse initially told detectives that Francois disposed of the weapon while he waited in his vehicle.
Gildhouse testified Wednesday that he personally threw away the gun a few days after the shooting because Francois was hospitalized and was unable to do it.
Alonzo, the defense attorney, told jurors his client was “simply in the wrong place at the wrong time.”
The evidence clearly proves that it was Francois who planned and executed the robbery, the defense attorney said.
Francois is guilty of calling the cab, of taking the money from Badeaux and of firing the fatal shot, Alonzo said.
“My client is guilty of accessory after the fact,”Alonzo said, referring to his client’s admission to having disposed of the murder weapon.
While incarcerated on the murder charge, Gildhouse was one of two men who escaped from the Lafayette Parish Correctional Center in March. They were captured hours later within the city limits.
Editor’s note: The story was changed on Thursday, Oct. 11, to correct the charges against Gildhouse.