LAFAYETTE — After a brief deliberation, a jury has found Kevin Daigle guilty of first-degree murder.
After the trial, the jury deliberated for fewer than five minutes before returning the verdict. The penalty phase begins now, as the jurors must decide if Daigle will serve a life sentence or recommend he receive the death penalty. The penalty phase will begin tomorrow morning, the court decided.
Daigle was accused of killing Louisiana State Police Trooper Steven Vincent in 2015. Monday, prosecutors showed viewers the dash cam footage when Vincent encountered Daigle whose vehicle was broken down on Highway 14.
Calcasieu District Attorney John Derosier said the verdict was "appropriate."
"I don't relish the concept of bringing a first-degree murder and asking for the death penalty, but it is reasonable, it's appropriate and it is justified in this case," Derosier said outside the courthouse following the verdict. "This was a stone cold first-degree murder."
The main focus of Daigle's defense team was to portray his actions on the day Vincent was killed as fueled by a toxic mix of alcohol and drugs, which overwhelmed his senses and caused him to black out. They repeatedly stated that Daigle was "out of his mind" on the day that Vincent was killed.
In their closing arguments, defense attorneys pleaded with jurors to show mercy with Daigle when they deliberated on a verdict.
"Human beings are capable of immaculate grace and ultimate redemption," said Caitlin Graham, who was representing Daigle on behalf of the Baton Rouge Capital Conflict Office. "We are asking you today to turn to your better angels and consider what you have heard in the last few days in the same framework."
Graham stated that jurors could find Daigle guilty of a lesser charge such as second degree murder or manslaughter.
"The notion that Daigle did not know what what he was doing is preposterous," said Lee Hall, the chief prosecutor in the case, in the state's closing arguments. "What I find in this business is a lot of appeals to sympathy and mercy. What is lacking is the true execution of justice."
Derosier said the defense argument that Daigle was drunk and didn't know what he was doing didn't surprise him.
"They had no other defense, they had to come up with something," he said. "They had to try to conjure up some kind of defense to this unspeakable act."
Derosier wouldn't speculate about what will come in the penalty phase.
"I never predict what a jury's going to do; I know what they should do," he said. "I think the death penalty is appropriate in this case because of the nature of the act. It was intentional and he knew what he was doing. He executed that policeman, a very fine man."
Derosier said Vincent's death devastated his family.
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