Jury Gets Case After In Love Triangle Trial
LIVINGSTON, Texas (AP) _ The case of a junior high school principal accused of murdering the football coach over the affections of a school secretary went to a jury Tuesday after prosecutors claimed the defendant contradicted earlier statements during his trial.
In his closing argument in the six-month trial, prosecutor Peter Speers said that Hurley Fontenot shot coach Billy Mac Fleming twice in the back of the head, then drove around for nearly 10 hours to set up a phony alibi.
″Lies - that’s what this case is all about,″ Speers said. ″Lies. The truth is Hurley Fontenot killed Billy Mac Fleming. And Hurley Fontenot has been lying about it since the first day he talked to investigators.″
The jury, sequestered by state District Judge John Martin, deliberated for about three hours Tuesday before retiring for the night. It was to resume work Wednesday morning.
Fontenot, 48, former principal at Hull-Daisetta Woodson Junior High School, is accused in the April 12 shooting death of Fleming, whose body was found 10 days later in a densely forested area southwest of Livingston.
Fleming, 36, had been shot twice in the back of the head with a .22-caliber weapon.
Defense attorney Dick DeGuerin had suggested someone else killed Fleming, possibly a former business associate who was ″a big-time drug dealer″ or the coach’s estranged wife who collected $55,000 from three insurance policies.
Investigators either ignored or ″swept under the rug″ any evidence that might have proved Fontenot’s innocence, DeGuerin told jurors in his closing arguments.
″They never put the gun in Mr. Fontenot’s hand,″ he said. ″They never put his fingers on the trigger and they never proved he pulled the trigger and killed Mr. Fleming. You know in your heart there’s not one word of evidence he did it.″
Prosecutors contend Fontenot and Fleming were rivals for the affections of Laura Nugent, 36, a school secretary who had planned to marry Fleming last summer.
Prosecutor David Walker said in his closing statement that Fontenot had said that he did not care about Mrs. Nugent. But he said the former principal continued to pursue a divorcee.
″I think you know that Hurley Fontenot’s interest in Laura Nugent - sexual or otherwise - never ended,″ Walker said. ″That interest just changed its manifestation.″
He also noted that Fontenot denied he owned a .22-caliber revolver, even though several teachers testified that Fontenot boasted of always carrying one.
Fontenot also denied going to a hotel where Fleming and Mrs. Nugent had spent the night, even though two of Fontenot’s fingerprints later appeared on the receipt, which was sent with an anonymous letter to the couple denigrating their relationship.
Walker added that Fontenot claimed he left Fleming at the school fieldhouse the last day the coach was seen alive, even though he was seen driving away from the school with Fleming.
Fontenot testified he left on a trip to Houston, about 60 miles to the southwest, to pick up his daughter, at 3 p.m. April 12, but others testified they saw him in town an hour later.
The prosecutor also said tests proved that at least some of the specks of blood that were found in Fontenot’s truck were human, though the former principal had said they came from an animal.
Investigators also found bits of a pine tree under Fontenot’s red pickup truck. Fontenot told investigators that he ran over some saplings at his sister’s house, but the only pine that he could show to investigators was ″a 30- or 40-foot tree,″ Walker said.