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Wednesday, August 21, 2019

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Convicted murderer seeks money for appeal

Convicted murderer seeks money for appeal

A man found guilty of second-degree murder in a 2013 shooting in Cut Off is asking for public defense money to appeal his conviction.

Robert Chouest, 33, of Cut Off, killed Shawn Galjour, 41, of Larose, in the early morning of May 22, 2013. Galjour had been lying in a driveway near Chouest's home on ABC Lane.

State District Judge John LeBlanc of Thibodaux found Chouest guilty Jan. 29.

In a written request to LeBlanc, Baton Rouge attorney Michael Fiser said Chouest cannot afford the estimated $21,495 to appeal his conviction.

A state law about determining indigency says, "A defendant is presumed to have a substantial financial hardship if he or she is currently serving a sentence in a correctional institution or is housed in a mental health facility."

Chouest is serving a life sentence at the Louisiana State Penitentiary in Angola.

"By virtue of that circumstance, he is indigent," LeBlanc ruled in a hearing Wednesday.

Chouest has been through two trials in this case. The first, held last year, ended with the jury unable to reach a verdict.

The jury forewoman said in court last year that the majority had voted guilty. Chouest later chose to have LeBlanc decide his fate in the second trial rather than a jury.

Chouest testified that he'd been up for three days and consumed crystal methamphetamine, five rocks of crack cocaine, about six beers and several pain pills. He said he told his grandfather right after the shooting that he thought he'd shot an alligator.

Toxicology tests showed the victim's blood-alcohol concentration was .140.

Fiser represented Chouest at his second trial, along with George Ledet Jr. of Cut Off.

Ledet confirmed in court May 20 that he had decided not to ask LeBlanc for a post-verdict judgment of acquittal and a new trial.

Now, attorneys will instead ask the Louisiana 1st Circuit Court of Appeal to overturn the conviction.

-- Daily Comet Staff Writer Bridget Mire can be reached at 448-7639 or Follow her on Twitter @bridget_mire.