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Accused killer Wilkins could go to trial this month

Last Modified: Thursday, October 03, 2013 10:57 PM

By Johnathan Manning / American Press

The 3rd Circuit Court of Appeal has denied a writ sought by attorneys for alleged killer Robert Wilkins, potentially paving the way for him to go to trial later this month.

Wilkins, 37, is charged with second-degree murder in the 2004 stabbing of Anthony Fontenot, 32, near the Choupique Bridge in September 2004.

Public defenders for Wilkins had asked the appeals court to overturn a ruling from 14th Judicial District Court Judge Kent Savoie that would allow prosecutors to tell jurors to consider whether Wilkins could have escaped from the situation.

“There was no error when the trial court ruled that the State would be permitted to instruct the jury that it may consider the possibility of ‘escape’ as a factor in determining Defendant’s justifiable homicide defense,” reads the writ, released Tuesday.

Wilkins is set for trial Oct. 21.

Wilkins was found guilty in January 2011, but the 3rd Circuit overturned the conviction because black jurors were excused because of their race.

When Wilkins went to trial again in July, his attorney, Richard Bourke, discussed with a panel of jurors a person’s obligation to retreat under the state’s “stand your ground” law.

When prosecutor Rick Bryant questioned the next panel of jurors, he told them they would have to consider whether Wilkins could have escaped from the situation.

Bourke argued that jurors should not be allowed to consider the possibility of escape.

Judge Kent Savoie ruled against Bourke, but granted his request for a mistrial because Bourke had not questioned the first panel of jurors about the possibility of escape.

“The defendant in this case actually had the opportunity to do both, but I don’t think either one applies because the defendant in this case was, in fact, the aggressor, not a victim,” District Attorney John DeRosier said. “The defendant would like for people to think that he was a victim.”

Wilkins’ attorney could not be reached for comment.

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