Opening arguments began Monday for trial of Kayla Giles
ALEXANDRIA, La. (KALB) - Opening arguments began Monday morning, Jan. 24, in the trial of Kayla Giles at 10 a.m. Giles is charged with second-degree murder and obstruction of justice for the September 2018 shooting of her estranged husband, Thomas Coutee, Jr.
Ahead of that, there was a hearing in which Judge Greg Beard granted a state motion to use an attempt by Giles in December 2019 to access funds in Coutee, Jr.’s bank account as a “bad act.”
The state believes the move was part of motive to profit off of Coutee, Jr.’s death.
The state, led by Assistant Attorney General Joseph LeBeau, started by describing Thomas Coutee, Jr. as a “loving father, son, teacher and all-around great guy,” with a “big heart.” He contrasted that with Giles who he said is “cold, calculating and manipulative.”
LeBeau told the jury the trial would unveil a series of events that led up to the shooting of escalating domestic incidents that Coutee, Jr. documented and an ongoing custody battle over the couple’s 2-year-old.
LeBeau said evidence would also show attempts by Giles to first borrow a gun from a friend, before buying one 12 days before Coutee, Jr. was shot.
LeBeau told the jury, “Kayla Giles might be evil, but she is not stupid.”
Giles’ defense attorney, George Higgins, pushed back during his opening arguments. He told the jury, “There are two sides to this story and two sides to this divorce.”
Higgins contested the evidence that the state would try to show the jury other “bad acts,” saying that they aren’t relevant.
Higgins told the jury of Giles, “You’re not going to want to bring her home to dinner,” but said it didn’t matter because this will be a clear case of Stand Your Ground.
Higgins believes that the Alexandria Police Department didn’t properly investigate the case as Stand Your Ground. He also said Giles bought the weapon because “she became concerned about Thomas.”
He said video from the scene would show Coutee, Jr. “walking aggressively toward [Giles’] vehicle and as he opened the door was shot.”
Two witnesses have testified who tried to render first aid once Thomas Coutee, Jr. was shot.
The first was inside her vehicle while her husband was pumping gas. She didn’t physically see the shooting. The witness told the jury that Coutee, Jr. was “non-verbal, still breathing.” He was face down in the parking lot. She and her husband rolled him over to render aid. When Coutee, Jr. stopped breathing, she started CPR.
The woman told the court she saw Giles at the scene and initially thought she was a bystander, “she was calm.”
Defense attorney George Higgins asked the witness if she thought Giles was in shock. The witness said she didn’t believe her to be.
The second witness to testify also didn’t see the shooting, but saw legs on the ground and initially thought it was someone with heatstroke.
She also saw Giles and said Giles was “calm.” The witnesses waved over police when they arrived and noticed three children in one of the vehicles. The witness said she spoke to the children to keep them calm as police arrived.
The prosecution submitted six 911 calls into evidence. Those calls include one from Giles to police on the day of the shooting. She provided the location, but no explanation on what happened. A 911 operator was brought in as a witness. She recalled repeated attempts at calling Giles back after she got off the line. Four consecutive times it went to voicemail. The last call was from a witness reporting the shooting.
One of the last witness testimonies the jury heard today was from a former APD officer. That officer was the first to respond the day of the shooting. He recalled asking who shot Coutee, Jr. while on the scene, to which Giles raised her hand and identified herself. She was then taken into custody.
Jurors viewed a dashcam video from the day, one angle showed the scene, the other angle showed Giles’ reaction while in the backseat of the police car. When officers asked why she shot Coutee, she responded, “He scared me. I thought he was gonna hurt me.” Officers left her for a moment after that. Giles can then be heard saying, “What a [expletive] day. Happy Birthday, Tesla.”
Coutee, Jr. was shot on the day of Giles and Coutee, Jr.’s daughter’s birthday while exchanging custody to attend the child’s birthday party. On cross-examination, Higgins emphasized Giles hadn’t fled the scene. Asking the officer if he felt as if Giles was a threat, he responded, “At the time, no.”
Higgins then introduced a video from when officers were with the children as detectives were interviewing Giles. The responding officer from that day can be heard saying, “I want to take her ass to jail,” followed soon after by, “They’re always going to charge her with second-degree murder.”
Higgins asked the officer why he made those statements. He responded, “She just killed somebody.” The prosecution followed Higgins’s questioning by asking the witness several questions about his involvement in filing charges, like if he was directly involved in filing the charges or if the detectives asked his opinion on charges, to which he responded, “No.” That witness has been placed on-call under a sequester.
Stay with News Channel 5 as we continue to bring you further updates from this trial.
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