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Murder trial over 2017 Death of ‘Good Samaritan’ Christon Chaisson Postponed to October

By Megan Wyatt The Advocate, Jul 19, 2021

The long-awaited murder trial for Tyler Nicholas Benoit, which was set to begin Monday, has been rescheduled to October after a key witness in the case was unexpectedly hospitalized Monday morning.

Judge Marilyn Castle of the 15th Judicial District Court ordered for the trial to be reset to Oct. 11 after Benoit’s attorney, Thomas Alonzo, provided documentation that the witness would not be able to testify in court this week.

“Everybody would like to see this case tried,” Castle said, noting that the trial had already been pushed back multiple times. “I’d like to see this case tried.”

Benoit, 24, of Kaplan, was indicted on one count of second-degree murder in the August 2017 death of Christon Chaisson. Benoit is accused of shooting Chaisson to death in the early morning hours of Aug. 12, 2017, in downtown Lafayette.
Lafayette Police said in 2017 that Chaisson was passing by the Rosa Parks Center when he saw a woman being beaten by her boyfriend. Chaisson reportedly was shot to death when he attempted to intervene to protect the woman, police said, which earned Chaisson the nickname of the good Samaritan.

Chaisson, 31, of Broussard, left behind a wife, Kelly, and a young son. The boy recently celebrated his 7th birthday.

Kelly Chaisson, who moved to the Dallas area in October, drove six hours to be present in the Lafayette courtroom Monday. She brought a framed photo of Chaisson from their wedding day.

“I’m not happy we’re going home without an ending — a result — but we are dedicated to see this through no matter how long it takes,” Kelly Chaisson said as she left the courthouse Monday afternoon.
Witness Angel Hebert was admitted to Our Lady of Lourdes Women’s & Children’s Hospital around 6 a.m. Monday with complications related to a high-risk pregnancy, according to testimony by her fiancé, Bryan Eddington.

Alonzo described Hebert as “critical” to the defense’s case. State prosecutors Alisa Gothreaux and Roya Boustany questioned the timing of the hospitalization and objected to resetting the trial date.

Castle released the pool of potential jurors early Monday afternoon and told Alonzo to return to the court before 4:30 p.m. with documentation in writing from Hebert’s doctor about her condition.

“I think it’s just kind of incredible to think I’m perpetrating some kind of fraud against this court,” Alonzo said, noting the witness was expected to have a baby seven weeks before her due date.  Alonzo returned to the courtroom around 3 p.m. Monday with documentation for the judge, who rescheduled the trial to Oct. 11. The last trial date of March 23, 2020, was pushed back after the courthouse was ordered to close as coronavirus spread through the state.

“This is a case that’s going to trial,” Castle said.

Benoit sat in the courtroom gallery alongside family members on Monday. He and his family declined to comment on the trial’s postponement. Benoit was released from jail in October 2017 on a $125,000 bond under the conditions he would not leave his house between 8 p.m. and 6 a.m., not consume drugs or alcohol and not keep weapons in his home. He also was ordered to wear a bracelet that monitors alcohol intake as a condition of his release.

The original article can be found here:  Murder trial over 2017 death of ‘good Samaritan’ Christon Chaisson postponed to October

Ankle monitor cost concerns; man heads back to jail

By Breon Martin October 29, 2019 KADN News 15

The grocery store, work, church and even school are just some of the places allowed for one sentenced to wear an ankle monitor.
Thomas Alonzo, attorney at law says a perpetrator can stay out of jail because of the digital shackles — which is basically house arrest.
If the rules aren’t followed an alarm is sent back to the monitoring company, the company notifies the sheriff’s office who then jails the device wearer.
Alonzo says, “it works for some people and some people it doesn’t; it’s very expensive and some people can’t afford it.”
Roy Clark, Sr. says his ankle monitor sets him back nearly $400 a month. He explains his only income of $771 comes from disability, while $700 of that goes into rent. That doesn’t include utilities, food and medicine. Clark says the circumstances make it impossible to make payments, especially after losing his wife of 25 years due to a cardiac arrest.
Clark says he set his home a blaze in order to collect a check to support his family and was arrested with a now reduced $40,000 bond after attempted insurance fraud.
“I was not thinking about nothing— all I knew is that I loved those children,” says Clark, who claims the biological father of four of his wife’s five kids, suggested he do it and later framing him in order to gain custody.
“It was in that hour when he called it in and told them that… I went to jail and the fire marshal was nice enough to let me stay out and bury my wife.”
Now left with no home, no pictures and no contact with his step-kids I asked, “What’s are the consequences?” Clark responded with, “I’m going to jail.”
“This individual is offered house arrest. If he accepts it. He signs up for it, he interviews for it, they put a bracelet on,” said Alonzo who offers some advice to those in a similar situation. He says, “Make that you’re ready to meet your obligations with the bracelet. Make your payments, stay on the system; do not deviate from the pathway that you’re allowed to go to, keep working and stay out of jail.”
Clark says even though he’ll be going back to jail Wednesday, but the problem remains — says the ankle monitor is costly.
News 15 is waiting to hear back from the Lafayette Parish Sheriff’s Office to get specific details about the monitor payment system.

The original article can be found here:

Thomas V. Alonzo news interview

Lack of Funding for Public Defenders Means a Backlog in Court Cases, by Taylor Trache, Fox 15 KADN 5/25/17

Attorneys can remember the time when Lafayette Parish was efficient with cases and judges moved dockets quickly. But that efficiency seems to be wearing thin.

“Now because of this funding issue it’s starting to slow down and it’s starting to back up. It’s going to be a problem if we don’t get the funding.” said Attorney, Thomas Alonzo.

Louisiana public defenders are already few and far between and it’s not getting any better.

“They don’t have enough to handle the amount of cases coming in.” said Alonzo.

In 2012, the 15th Judicial District Public Defenders office handled more than 19,000 cases. And judges are trying to find ways to ease the growing case load through volunteers.

“Attorneys came forward big time we had like 150 attorneys” said 15th Judicial District Judge Patrick Michot.

Judge Patrick Michot reached out to attorneys on a volunteer basis to help manage cases coming in.

“Everybody has their own comfort level of what they wanna do in their profession in a courtroom, or in a criminal arena. But it didn’t always dovetail with what they were doing before, for some it was and some it wasn’t” said Michot.

“It’s better that they have public defenders with experience but these lawyers have stepped in and that’s kind of eased the back load. But still there’s a huge waiting list for people who need lawyers.” said Alonzo.

Alonzo says rarely has he ever seen someone plead guilty to avoid waiting for representation in Lafayette Parish. But, it also brings about a person’s right to a speedy trial.

“Delayed justice is justice denied. They’re entitled to a speedy trial and when that slows, it’s a hit on justice” said Michot.

Thomas V. Alonzo speaking to KADN about funding for Lafayette Parish public defenders.

Click here to see original video

Original article:

Thomas Alonzo provides commentary about an unusual legal case involving multiple criminal and civil charges in Gretna, Louisiana. Article by Robert Lawson, Louisiana Record, 10/25/16

Excerpt: “Thomas Alonzo, a criminal defense attorney in Lafayette, said the cases must proceed, irrespective of criminal proceedings. Since both the bookkeeper (defendant) and doctor (plaintiff) are involved in separate criminal proceedings, the lawsuit will carry on.
“The bookkeeper would still have to go to court,” Alonzo told the Louisiana Record. “It’s a civil matter, so it wouldn’t be delayed unless the vehicular homicide somehow was connected to the civil case.”

Alonzo said the plaintiff, or even the defendant, would be wise to bond out before appearing in court for the civil case, though in some instances a judge might give permission to let them out for the court appearance.

“He could probably get permission to go to a court proceeding,” Alonzo said. “Most people want to bond out though. He likely wouldn’t pursue the civil case unless he was out of jail.”

That’s because impressions are important, Alonzo indicated. “Otherwise, he’d have to show up in an orange jumpsuit. It would be more logical and practical to bond out,” he said.”

Original article:

“Conviction of Lafayette teen in 2014 armed robbery overturned by appeals court, cites judge error” by Billy Gunn The Advocate 11/4/15

Excerpt: “A Louisiana appellate court has thrown out the 2014 conviction and prison sentence of a Lafayette teenager accused in the armed robbery of another juvenile two years ago.

A three-judge panel of the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeal, in a decision released Wednesday, said the felony case of Dontrelon Thomas will be sent back to Judge Ed Rubin’s court for another 15th Judicial District trial in Lafayette.
The 3rd Circuit said Rubin erred when he allowed the jury to listen to a recording of the victim’s testimony after the jury had begun to deliberate. During the July 2014 trial, Rubin’s decision to let the jury rehear the testimony brought multiple objections from Thomas’ attorney, Thomas Alonzo.

“We felt that this was an obvious miscarriage of justice,” Alonzo said Wednesday. “We knew it was going to be reversed, and we have been waiting for that to occur.”

Original article:

“Vermilion Parish Deputy Remembered a Year after Brutal Slaying Rocked Community” by Billy Gunn The Advocate 7/1/15


“Now, their attorneys are trying to keep them off death row.

In October, Richard’s lead attorney, Thomas Alonzo, filed a document that indicated Richard may be mentally incompetent to stand trial. Alonzo declined to delve into Richard’s possible mental issues last week, saying “This is really a sensitive case.”

Alonzo did say he and Richard’s other lawyers might ask to move the trial from Vermilion Parish.

According to court filings, Richard’s trial is scheduled for next April but Ayo and Alonzo said that date likely would be pushed back.”

Original Article:

Trial attorney Thomas Alonzo on Fox15

Fontenot Sentencing Date Set, Fox15 6/16/15

Thomas Alonzo provided commentary for a news segment about the upcoming sentencing of Seth Fontenot.

Excerpt: “We spoke with trial attorney Thomas Alonzo who says that the time Fontenot is facing in prison is all Judge Rubin’s decision.” Thomas Alonzo: “If he sentences him to all three counts, and chances are he will, the counts could run consecutive or concurrent. It just depends. There are a variety of factors to be taken into account. I think after it is all said and done, no one is going to be happy, and that’s generally how these things work out.”

“Charges Dismissed Against Former Lafayette Cop Accused of Sexual Battery” 3/27/15

Prosecutors dismissed the sexual battery and malfeasance in office charges Thursday against former Lafayette Police office Jackie Hagan Jr.
Hagan had been accused of two incidents of groping a woman while on duty. He had already been found not guilty in the first case.

Thomas Alonzo, Hagan’s attorney, said he does not know why prosecutors dropped the charges, but surmised it could have been because of the not guilty verdict in the first trial.

In that trial, because the factual basis in both allegations were similar, prosecutors were allowed to present evidence from both cases, Alonzo said.

After about 90 minutes of deliberations, the six-person jury returned a not guilty verdict.

Alonzo said he thinks that not guilty verdict in the first trial, even with the testimony from the alleged victim in the second incident, may have scared away prosecutors from trying Hagan on the second charge.
“I think the state made the wise decision,” Alonzo said.

Alonzo said Hagan is happy to move on with his life and is working, but not as a police officer.

In the second case, Hagan had been accused of groping a woman on Aug. 20, 2011 while on duty.

Original Article:

Thomas Alonzo interviewed on KADN

 “Seth Fontenot Trial Set to Begin Tomorrow”

Jonathan Arnold Multimedia Journalist
Monday, March 16, 2015 – 4:17pm
LAFAYETTE, LA (KADN) — “Tomorrow Seth Fontenot will try to avoid spending the rest of his life in prison for shooting and killing a teen in 2013 and injuring two others.
Fontenot plead to negligent homicide back in October in hopes to lessen his sentencing to 5 years or less in prison but that plea was turned down by the District Attorney. A jury of 12 Lafayette Parish residents will need 10 votes to convict Fontenot.
“It’s simply a first degree murder charge based on the number of victims involved.” said Trial Attorney Thomas Alonzo.
“In any type of situation like this where a young man has lost his life and another young man is exposed to this type of sentence, it’s going to be a very emotional decision for all parties involved.”
“It’s a tragic situation for everyone involved and I think that we are going to finally see it come to an end this week.”
Despite Fontenot’s insistence that he didn’t mean to hurt anyone, a grand jury charged him with first-degree murder and attempted murder in February 2013.
One of the requirements of leveling a first-degree murder charge at someone is the belief they intended to harm more than one person, according to Louisiana’s revised statutes.
The prosecution has taken the death penalty off the table.”
Original article:

“Pair Accused of Killing Vermilion Parish Deputy Face Death Penalty” by Billy Gunn, The Advocate 10/1/14.


“Richard, outfitted in a faded orange and white prison suit and sporting a scruffy chin beard, said nothing, instead letting one of his two defense attorneys, Thomas Alonzo, speak for him.

Alonzo answered not guilty to each charge on which Richard was indicted.
Alonzo told Castle he would ask state officials for records of Richard’s childhood, which could reveal mental defects or illnesses that would keep him off death row.”


For the full article, visit The Advocate:

“Former Lafayette Police Officer Found Not Guilty in Sexual Battery Case” by Billy Gunn, The Advocate 9/18/14.


“A jury acquitted former Lafayette Police Officer Jackie Hagan Jr. Wednesday of sexual battery stemming from a woman’s claim he groped her in a November 2011 encounter while on duty and wearing his badge.

The jury of six also declined to find Hagan guilty of the lesser charge of attempted sexual battery, which Judge Marilyn Castle said was an option. It took the jury about an hour and 20 minutes to reach their verdict. The trial began Monday.

Hagan faced up to 10 years in prison at hard labor, and would have had to register as a sex offender after his release from prison. Instead, he walked out of the Lafayette Parish Courthouse Wednesday a free man.

Hagan, accompanied by his wife and other family members, did not speak to media outside the courthouse.

“They came back with the right verdict,” said Hagan’s attorney, Thomas Alonzo.”


For the full article, visit The Advocate:  “Former Lafayette Police Officer Found Not Guilty in Sexual Battery Case”


“Women Testify in Sexual Battery Trial” by Billy Gunn, The Advocate 9/17/14

by Billy Gunn, The Advocate 9/17/14.


She didn’t report the incident. A little over a year later, she was reading the KATC-TV website and saw his photo after he was arrested in the other case. “I seen that he did it to somebody else. I felt horrible. I should have reported it.”
Thomas Alonzo, Hagan’s attorney, asked her to list the drugs she was taking at the time: cocaine, marijuana, Xanax.
“How was your mind at the time?” Alonzo asked.
“I’m sure I wasn’t thinking the clearest,” she answered.”

For the full article, visit The Advocate:  “Women Testify in Sexual Battery Trial”


“Former Lafayette Police Officer on Trial in Sexual Battery Case” by Billy Gunn, The Advocate 9/17/14

by Billy Gunn, The Advocate 9/16/14.


“Former Lafayette police Officer Jackie Hagan Jr., accused of sexually accosting a woman while he was on duty in 2011, faces up to 10 years in prison at hard labor if he’s convicted at a trial that started Monday.
“Ladies and gentlemen, this case is not complex at all,” Pat Magee, a prosecutor with the 15th Judicial District Attorney’s Office, told the jury of five men and two women at the trial’s opening. One of the jurors is an alternate.
Magee said Hagan, 36, touched the woman’s privates without her consent. Magee said DNA evidence will show Hagan touched her in an intimate way.
Hagan’s attorney, Thomas Alonzo, conceded that Hagan was intimate with the woman, “probably not the smartest thing for him to do,” but insisted the contact was consensual.
Alonzo told the jurors the victim was going through personal problems at the time of the incident in downtown Lafayette, was intoxicated and taking sedatives, and willingly got into Hagan’s police car on Nov. 20, 2011.”

For the full article, visit The Advocate:  “Former Lafayette Police Officer on Trial in Sexual Battery Case”


“Accused Killer Seeks Move to Avoid ‘Jailhouse Snitches'” by Billy Gunn, Baton Rouge Advocate 5/13/14.


“Rogers wants to avoid contact with potential informants, or “jailhouse snitches,” who could lie on the witness stand and send Rogers to death row, according to a motion in Rogers’ case, filed this week by one of his court-appointed attorneys, Thomas Alonzo.

Alonzo also is asking state District Judge John Trahan, who will preside over Rogers’ potential death penalty trial, to order jail officials to make sure none of the hundreds of other inmates at the Correctional Center talks to Rogers.

“We just want to make sure our client is protected,” Thomas Alonzo said Thursday…”

For full article, visit the Advocate: “Accused Killer Seeks Move to Avoid ‘Jailhouse Snitches'”
“Hill Decision Stirs up Debate” by Jim Mustian, Baton Rouge Advocate 8/12/13.

“Plea Deal Gives Lohse 20 Years” by Jessica Goff, Daily Advertiser 7/23/13.

“Lohse Gets 20-Year Sentence in Vehicular Homicide Case” by Billy Gunn, Baton Rouge Advocate 7/23/13.

“Wade Lohse Seeks Change of Venue, Cites Media Exposure” by Chris Ramirez, Daily Advertiser 6/26/13.

“Wade Lohse is Denied Bond in Vehicular Homicide” by Chris Ramirez, Daily Advertiser 5/15/13.

“Staff Sgt. Acquitted of Manslaughter” by Kristin Davis, Air Force Times 5/14/13.

“Acadiana Fugitive’s Video Provokes Outrage” by Billy Gunn, Baton Rouge Advocate 4/10/13.

“Former Lafayette Officer Indicted Again” Baton Rouge Advocate 2/8/13.

“Felix Case Suspect Out of Jail” by Jason Brown, Baton Rouge Advocate 9/13/12.

“Air Force Sergeant: Shooting Justified” by Jason Brown, Baton Rouge Advocate 8/20/12.

“Ex-Officer Booked in Sex Count” by Richard Burgess, Baton Rouge Advocate 8/9/12.

“Mistrial Declared in Inmate Drug-Smuggling Trial” by Jason Brown, Baton Rouge Advocate 7/26/12.

“Jury Clears Man in ’07 Nightclub Stabbings” by Jason Brown, Baton Rouge Advocate 8/12/11.

“Local Man Cleared in Stabbing from 2007” by Nicholas Persac, Daily Advertiser 8/12/11.

“Rape Suspect Out After Arrests” by Jason Brown, Baton Rouge Advocate 4/20/11.

“Judge Says 2 Brothers To Be Tried Together” by Jason Brown, Baton Rouge Advocate 2/6/11.

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