Jurors watch video of Wilkins telling about killing

By Theresa Schmidt - bio | email

LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) -Coroner Dr. Terry Welke says the stab wound that Tony Fontenot died from went into his neck and cut both his jugular vein and his carotid artery resulting in fatal loss of blood.  Welke testified if someone had gotten help for Fontenot he might have survived.  Fontenot began running after he was stabbed causing even more rapid loss of blood.

The jury has retired for the day,  but the lawyers and judge stayed in court until after 6 p.m. arguing over what will be allowed concerning what the defense calls the dangerous character or reputation of the victim.  Judge Kent Savoie may rule on those issues tomorrow.

Earlier jurors watched Robert Wilkins video statement of what happened the night he stabbed Fontenot as the two sat in Fontenot's pickup truck at Choupique Boat launch. Wilkins is on trial for second degree murder.

Wilkins told deputies the two met to discuss $5000 Wilkins owed Fontenot for drugs.  Wilkins says Fontenot said, "I told you not to mess with my money or I will kill you." Wilkins told deputies, "I was scared.  I had to protect myself.  I knew he had a gun.  I didn't know if he had it in his possession."

Wilkins admits he "took the first lick" and then drove off, throwing the knife out the window of the car hew as driving.  Wilkins says he saw Fontenot running, but didn't know where he had hit him with the knife.  He says Fontenot knew where he lived and that if not mortally wounded,  Wilkins believed Fontenot would come after him. During the interview Wilkins did not describe any moves or overt acts made by Fontenot that indicated an immediate threat.

Earlier,  jurors saw the alleged murder weapon introduced by prosecutors.  The fixed blade knife with gray duct tape on the handle was found in the grass off Highway 108,  where Wilkins allegedly threw it when he left the scene.  Jurors also saw a Colt stainless steel blade folding knife that was found in Fontenot's right front pants pocket after he was already dead.  There is no evidence Fontenot had drawn his knife nor were any weapons found in Fontenot's truck where the stabbing took place.

The defense is trying to show Wilkins killed Fontenot because he feared for his life.

Jurors also saw a bag of alleged marijuana and a bag of alleged crack cocaine, 20 rocks, that investigators found in a search of the room where Wilkins was staying. The alleged marijuana was discovered in a recessed area of drywall covered by a tapestry of the Sacred Heart of Jesus while the crack rocks were allegedly hidden in Wilkins' pillowcase.

The jury was sent out of the courtroom several times-- one of which was during a heated words from both special prosecutor Tony Clayton and defense attorney Richard Bourke.  Clayton was upset at comments Bourke made he felt implied that prosecutors might be hiding the fact that Fontenot had a folding knife in his right front pocket. The knife found on the dead man was later introduced into evidence.

The trial will resume at 8:30 Thursday morning.

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