Trial begins for man accused in fatal Sherry Street shooting

Published 5:31 pm Thursday, May 30, 2024

Opening statements began Thursday morning in the second-degree murder trial of Erron Fontenot — accused of shooting James Barrilleaux as he sat on the front porch of the Sherry Street home where Fontenot’s mother lived.

Calcasieu Parish Assistant District Attorney Joey Williams said Fontenot planned the murder ahead of time, believing Barilleaux had stolen tools from him.

“You’ll hear him say, ‘I didn’t give him time to say anything, I just popped him in the f***ing head,’ ” Williams told jurors during opening statements. “He admitted he knew he was going to kill him and then he burned his clothes, put the firearm in a box, hopped a friend’s fence, knocked on her door and went inside.”

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Williams told jurors they will also hear Fontenot mocking the “snoring noises” he said Barrilleaux made after he was shot.

Fontenot was ultimately captured by Calcasieu Parish Sheriff’s Office deputies hiding under a mobile home on Sherry Street. Tips from CrimeStoppers led officers to the general area where Fontenot was found — including a caller who said he initially hid inside her shed’s hot tub and another who said Fontenot was hiding under a mobile home.

Public defender King Alexander declined to give an opening statement.

Six video clips shown to jurors that were taken from area home security cameras show Fontenot leaving the area of his mother’s house after the shooting, entering a camper trailer he lived in on the property, leaving that trailer and then appearing shirtless at a neighbor’s home.

Deputy Michael Hamorski showed jurors photographs of the shed with the hot tub inside that were taken the day of the shooting. The photos show the tie-down latch for the hot tub unhooked. Separate photos also show a wet T-shirt on the ground outside the shed.

Ashlei Pickett — who lived in the trailer in which Fontenot is seen in video footage knocking on the door — said Fontenot asked her if he could take a shower at her place and that he needed a trash bag. She testified Fontenot told her he had just shot Barrilleaux and said she agreed to let him use her shower and told him where the bags were kept.

Through tears, she told jurors that before the shooting she and Fontenot were good friend and “would do everything together.”

After his shower, Pickett said Fontenot asked to leave with her and a group of friends who were headed out of town.

Security video from Pickett’s home shows Fontenot emerging from the trailer in a hoodie, carrying a bag and heading down her driveway.

Pickett said he tried to open her car door, but she told him the group wasn’t traveling in her car. Pickett said Fontenot then tried to get inside her friend’s vehicle and he told Fontenot he wasn’t going with them.

Roger Ray, an inmate serving time on unrelated charges, testified he was the one who opened the door of Pickett’s home that night.

“He just kept saying, ‘I shot him, I shot him,’ ” Ray testified.

Ray also told jurors it was him who had earlier given the gun to Fontenot. Ray said he traded it with Fontenot in exchange for metal roofing he needed on his own home.

Pickett told jurors that after Fontenot was denied a ride, he ran from her home.

Hamorski told jurors Fontenot was discovered hiding under a mobile home down the road from Pickett’s house after their office received an anonymous call.

“When I lifted the trailer’s siding, Erron Fontenot was behind it,” Hamorski testified. “He did not put up a fight at that time.”

The shooting occurred just before 4 a.m. that morning and Fontenot was discovered at about 10 a.m.

CPSO forensic investigator Tyler Houston said also under the trailer where Fontenot was hiding was a trash bag containing a pair of jeans, work boots and a multi-use tool.

Houston said a firearm was found hidden inside a USB box alongside a fence in the same area.

Dr. William McClain, a forensic pathologist and medical examiner, told jurors he performed Barrilleaux’s autopsy at the request of the Calcasieu Parish Coroner’s Office. He said Barrilleaux was shot just above his right eyebrow.

As autopsy and X-ray photos were being shown to jurors, Fontenot’s mother left the courtroom in tears.

McClain said he was able to retrieve the bullet from Barrilleaux’s brain and showed jurors what he called the now-“deformed” bullet.

He also said Barrilleaux was an organ donor.