Aug 28, 2013 7:49 PM by Chris Welty

Seth Fontenot Pre-trial Begins Tomorrow

Seth Fontenot will be back in court tomorrow morning for a pre-trial hearing.

Fontenot is accused of killing 15-year-old Austin Rivault and injuring two other teens after shooting at their vehicle. He's facing charges of first degree murder and two counts of attempted first degree murder.

Tomorrow, both sides of the case will have their chance to present motions and an official trial date could be set.

One of the request has already sparked a series of filings back and forth. The defense wants to present surveillance video from Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital the night Austin was killed.

For the first time since March, 18-year-old Seth Fontenot will be back in the Lafayette Parish Courthouse for a pre-trial hearing.

Two weeks ago, a judge approved a motion giving defense attorney Tommy Guilbeau surveillance video from Our Lady of Lourdes. Prosecutors in the case and parents of slain teen, Austin Rivault objected saying the video should be considered part of their son's medical record and protected under medical privacy laws.

"I don't think the purpose of HIPPA was to protect this kind of information, but it is broadly enough written so a judge could decide HIPPA would protect surveillance video," said Health Law Attorney Stephen Sullivan
of the Sullivan & Stolier Law Firm.

16th Judicial District Assistant Attorney Chester Cedars says, "It could conflict with a defendant's rights to compel the production of evidence and to present a defense and hence be entitled to a fair trial."

Both legal experts we talked with say HIPPA laws are intended to protect health information.

"Patients need to feel secure that they can seek health care and not worry any information that may be potentially embarrassing, harmful or hurtful would be released," said Sullivan.

He says he thinks it's a stretch to claim video from a hospital entrance relates to their treatment. Sullivan says in cases like this, it's usually up to the judge's interpretation of the law.

ADA Chester Cedars says, "Both sides are adequately represented and I'm confident at the end of the day, the ends of justice will be served."

If Seth Fontenot is convicted, he could serve life in prison.

Chris Welty


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