LAFAYETTE —Judge Clayton Davis denied two motions Friday from the defense in the capital murder trial of Kevin Daigle.
One motion was for a mistrial, and the other was to prevent moving the remainder of the trial from Lafayette to Lake Charles.
A jury found Daigle, 57, guilty of first-degree murder Tuesday in the fatal shooting of Louisiana State Trooper Steven Vincent. Vincent, a 13-year veteran of the force, was 44 when he died Aug. 24, 2015, the day after he was shot.
The trial is in the penalty phase, and Davis made the decision to move proceedings to Lake Charles today due to weather conditions that will likely be caused by Tropical Storm Barry.
Last year, Davis granted the defense’s motion for a full change of venue and the trial and proceedings have been held in 15th District Court in Lafayette.
The defense argued moving the trial to Lake Charles at this point will distract jurors and disrupt the flow of the penalty phase. Davis said he is moving the trial for the safety and comfort of the jury and all involved in the trial.
Once the jury returned its verdict this week, the trial entered the penalty phase, with first the prosecution presenting testimony and witnesses and then the defense doing the same. The prosecution seeks the death penalty while the defense has argued for a life sentence for Daigle.
Although the jury came back to the courtroom with a verdict less than 15 minutes after departing for deliberations it’s likely there were no deliberations at all.
Lead prosecutor Lea Hall told jurors the first thing they should do when getting to the jury room was to take a vote. If all were in agreement at that time, they could write their verdict down, complete any required paperwork, and return to the courtroom. A few minutes later, they did just that.
In earlier testimony prior to the verdict, troopers who were friends of Vincent and worked with him on the force, told about receiving “officer down” reports on the day of the shooting. Robert LeDoux, a good Samaritan, arrived on the scene ahead of law enforcement. He tackled Daigle until other bystanders arrived and then he used Vincent’s unit radio to call for help.
Dash cam video from Vincent’s patrol unit was shown to jurors and they were able to observe the trooper trying to help Daigle who had driven a truck into a ditch on Fruge Road near Hayes. As Vincent walked from his unit back to the truck, Daigle pulled a sawed-off shotgun from his vehicle and shot Vincent.
Vincent was transported from the scene in a helicopter with not only medical personnel but his fellow trooper and close friend Joey Babineaux at his side. Vincent succumbed to his injuries at a local hospital.
After a three-day trial, jurors returned their guilty verdict. Lead prosecutor Lea Hall said, “Justice was required in this case, and justice was served. This was an ambush killing of a police officer.”
Family and friends of Vincent have filled the courtroom every day of the trial and throughout the penalty phase.
Katherine Vincent, widow of Steven Vincent, testified earlier this week of the “happy little life” she, her husband, and their son Ethan shared before Vincent was killed.
Ethan, 13, told jurors when he lost his dad, it “was like our whole life just crumbled to the ground.”
The penalty phase of the trial is expected to continue today in Lake Charles, with jurors being transported from Lafayette to 14th District Court.
There are only two options for Daigle — the death penalty or life in prison.
For Daigle to receive the death penalty, all 12 jurors have to be in agreement. Otherwise, Daigle will spend the rest of his natural life in prison at Angola.