Lafayette

Aug 29, 2013 1:33 PM

Judge agrees to background checks for grand jury in Seth Fontenot case

A Lafayette judge has granted a motion from Seth Fontenot's defense attorney for background checks to be run on the grand jury members who handed down the murder indictment against the 18-year-old.

Fifteenth Judicial District Judge Kristian Earles said he will allow the background checks to be run in his chambers with defense and prosecuting attorneys present. The decision came during a pre-trial motions hearing this morning in Lafayette.

"By not having a background check, the grand jury selection violates my client's constitutional rights," Guilbeau said during his argument in favor of the motion. He also claimed that 15th Judicial District Commissioner Thomas Frederick exceeded his authority in the grand jury selection process, but did not cite specifics.

Assistasnt District Attorney Mark Garber said none of Guilbeau's arguments were specific. He claimed the background checks should not be allowed, calling them "a fishing expedition that has gone too far."

Garber also cited his concern that the background checks could violate the privacy and anonymity of the jurors. In his argumanets, Guilbeau said he believed several of the grand jurors had previous convictions that could have prejudiced their decision.

Fontenot is accused of killing 15-year-old Austin Rivault and injuring two other teens after shooting at their vehicle. He's facing charges of first degree murder and two counts of attempted first degree murder.

The court is currently in recess until 1:15 p.m., when the motions hearing will continue.

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