Suspect in deputy shooting wants trial moved out of St. Charles Parish

Lawyer also asked for two separate juries to hear evidence

After John Paul Devillier officially entered pleas of innocent and innocent by reasons of insanity to charges related to the shooting of St. Charles Parish Cpl. Burt Hazeltine, his attorney has filed motions to move his trial to another parish and that two juries be selected to hear evidence.

According to court documents, Devillier attorney Wendy Williams requested the trial be held in another venue on the basis that pre-trial publicity “has prejudiced the public’s mind against the defendant, rendering a fair and impartial trial impossible in this parish.”

She has also requested a two-jury “bifurcated” trial to consider the issues of criminal responsibility and innocence, asserting that it will be impossible for a single jury to separate the defense of whether or not he committed the crime alleged and whether he was mentally fit to be held responsible for his actions during the time of the shooting.

“”The potential unfairness implicit in a unified trial on these separate issues portends trial error,” Williams’ motion reads. “The utilization of two separate trials would be efficient, feasible and fair means to avoid confusion and ensure due process … The defense of innocence cannot be fairly tried together with the factual issue of whether or not the defendant committed the acts charged.”

The motions will be heard by Judge Emile St. Pierre on Sept. 29. Devillier is being held in parish jail under a one million dollar bond.

Devillier, 58, was determined in May to be mentally fit to stand trial, but the court-appointed sanity commission’s findings did not address his mental state on April 16, the day of the shooting in Paradis.

Hazeltine was shot several times while directing traffic in a Paradis school zone. According to witnesses, the shooting occurred about 9 a.m. and the deputy returned fire. The Sheriff’s Office said Devillier was agitated at being forced to wait at an intersection near the school. He allegedly left, then returned to the intersection minutes later and shot Hazeltine three times, the shots fired through Devillier’s windshield.

 

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