THIBODAUX, La. (AP) — A 31-year-old man from Cut Off who said he shot a man he mistook for an alligator will get a new trial after a jury could not make a decision in his second-degree murder case.
The Courier reports that after two-and-a-half hours of deliberation, jurors on Saturday were deadlocked 9-3 in a decision on the fate of Robert Chouest.
Chouest was charged in the May 22, 2013, killing of Shawn Galjour, 41, of Larose. Galjour was found on his back in a driveway near Chouest's home.
Chouest was the last to take the stand before the defense rested its case on Thursday.
The defense attorney said Chouest had been up for three days and shot at a silhouette he mistook for an alligator.
In his defense, Chouest testified that he'd had about six beers and used crystal methamphetamine the afternoon of May 21, 2013. He also testified that he'd taken about eight Percocet pain pills and, soon before the shooting, smoked about five rocks of crack cocaine.
His defense lawyer, George Ledet Jr., said he was a hunter and had no reason to believe anyone would be in a driveway on an isolated, family-owned street at 4 a.m.
Neither Chouest nor any of his family members who testified Thursday said they knew the victim. The lead detective on the case, who also testified Thursday, said he was never able to determine why Galjour was on the lane where Chouest lived. A coroner's report showed that the victim was intoxicated at the time.
On Saturday the jurors told state District Judge John LeBlanc of Thibodaux they were deadlocked and an hour later the jurors said they could not reach a verdict. LeBlanc then declared a mistrial.
The jury could have found Chouest guilty of second-degree murder, manslaughter or negligent homicide, or not guilty.
Lafourche District Attorney Cam Morvant II said he intended to retry Chouest.
Chouest's attorney said he had wanted closure with the case.
“It's been a tough two weeks. We were hoping to have a verdict,” he said. “It's tough for both families because now they have to continue to go through this. But we'll continue to fight.”
Attorneys on both sides will have a conference with the judge May 13 to schedule a new trial.
Information from: The Courier, http://www.houmatoday.com