Wilkins sentenced to life in prison

By Theresa Schmidt - bio | email

LAKE CHARLES, LA.(KPLC) -Louisiana law mandates a life sentence for those who, like Robert Wilkins, are convicted of second degree murder. Wilkins stabbed and killed Tony Fontenot at a Carlyss boat launch in 2004. But in a lengthy hearing Wilkins' attorney asked for a new trial and when that was denied put on testimony aimed at getting a reduced sentence. Defense attorney Richard Bourke put on evidence Wilkins was abused as a child, suffered post traumatic stress disorder and was pre-disposed to being an addict because of family history.

Fontenot's mother Julia was outraged. "The attorney was trying to convince the judge that if you want to get away with murder, all you've got to do is say you've been a drug addict since you were twelve years old and that you should get away with murder because your mind's messed up."

Prosecutor Cynthia Killingsworth says it's rarely justified to depart from the sentence required by law. "There are many, many people who are addicted to drugs or alcohol. There are many people who have suffered abusive behavior in the past. It doesn't give anybody a right to kill. And I don't think it gives anybody a right to excuse the behavior by deviating from the life sentence. This is the penalty in the State of Louisiana. The legislature has determined that that's the penalty and that's the penalty that should be given."

And in the end, Judge Kent Savoie gave Wilkins a life sentence. And while Fontenot's parents are pleased, their suffering continues. "People tell us we're going to have closure now? There is no closure. The only closure I will have is when I join my son because my son is in his grave."

Wilkins attorney declined to be interviewed. He is planning to appeal the conviction and sentence. Wilkins was also sentenced for possession with intent to distribute marijuana and cocaine. The fifteen year sentence is to be added to his life sentence.

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