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 returning to his car near 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.
Lafayette Police arrested a Kaplan man they say fatally shot a Broussard man Friday night on Lee Avenue.
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.