Day 2 of Kayla Giles trial: Judge Beard denies defense’s motion for a mistrial

Testimony continued on Tuesday with witnesses called by the State for the trial for Kayla Giles.
Published: Jan. 25, 2022 at 7:51 PM CST
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ALEXANDRIA, La. (KALB) - Testimony continued on Tuesday, Jan. 25, 2022, with witnesses called by the State for the trial for Kayla Giles. Giles is charged with second-degree murder and obstruction of justice for the September 2018 deadly shooting of her estranged husband, Thomas Coutee, Jr., in an Alexandria Walmart parking lot during a custody exchange.

Following the testimony of Supervisory Special Agent Andrew Bergeron for the Louisiana Bureau of Investigation, defense attorney George Higgins called for a mistrial.

Higgins claimed the prosecution highlighted evidence of other crimes when presenting a document to the jury called the Federal Firearms Transaction Record.

The record was used to show Giles’s purchase of a Ruger .380 from an Academy store in Texas. The part Higgins claimed prosecutor Joseph Lebeau highlighted was a portion of the document Giles had marked “no.” This portion asked if the purchaser had a protective order in place. According to a joint custody order signed on Aug. 20, 2018, there was a protective order in place for both parties. This protective order would have prevented the purchase of the firearm.

Under Texas law, a NIX check was not performed because Giles had a valid firearm possession permit, so the seller could not see that there was an order in place.

Higgins argued it is one thing for the documents showing proof of purchase to be heard by the jury, but it is another thing to have the “other crime” highlighted to the jury when that is not something they were notified of and his client had not been charged with.

Lebeau argued the record was submitted without objection. He also said, “The word ‘lie on the form’ was never uttered by anyone.”

Lebeau pointed out that the procurement of the murder weapon is integral to committing a murder, and the act “shows specific intent.”

Essentially, Lebeau was saying that without the document in question, there would be no case for the prosecution because “quite simply: no gun, no murder.”

Judge Greg Beard denied the defense’s motion, and witness testimony continued for the rest of day two.

Bergeron set up a timeline for the couple’s domestic dispute and child custody battle.

Here’s what that timeline looks like:

  • Coutee, Jr. filed a divorce petition, custody and property separation agreement on June 11, 2018.
  • A joint custody agreement was then filed on Aug. 20, 2018. Attachments to that agreement included a protective order for both parties.
  • Coutee, Jr. filed a motion for a new trial on custody just a week later with an Oct. 8, 2018, court date.
  • Bergeron said Giles was served with that motion on Sept. 7, 2018.
  • Coutee, Jr. was shot and killed on Sept. 8, 2018.

Higgins was able to cross-examine Bergeron on the service date for the protection order to Giles. According to records Higgins obtained from the Rapides Parish Clerk’s office, the court could not complete service to Giles for the protective order.

Prosecutor Joseph Lebeau followed, asking if Giles ever appeared in court for the protective order. Bergeron said he didn’t know.

Alexandria Police Department Det. Colin Butler took the stand as the next witness. The jury mainly reviewed surveillance video from Walmart and the Sonic on Coliseum Blvd. Following the viewing of both videos, the only question Lebeau asked was whether a shell casing had been moved on the scene, referring to a testimony from earlier in the day where Higgins had speculated the casing from Giles’ gun might have been moved.

This testimony was from Det. Chris Fonville with APD. Fonville is part of the crime scene investigation team.

Much of his testimony revolved around where the prosecution and defense believed Giles’ weapon was fired from. Coutee, Jr. was shot at close range outside of the Dodge Durango that Giles was in. Again, Giles claims the shooting was self-defense.

Fonville testified that he believed, based on where the casing was found, that the weapon, “in my opinion it would have to be outside the A-frame of the door.” Otherwise, he believes the casing would have been found inside the vehicle.

During cross-examination, defense attorney George Higgins asked about the location of the cartridge case.

“You don’t know if the cartridge case was kicked out of the car,” asked Higgins.

Fonville said he wouldn’t know if it had been moved, but indicated that he didn’t think it was.

The following Monday after the shooting, Fonville told the jury that police got a search warrant for Giles’ apartment, which is located near the Walmart. Inside of the apartment, he said they found the cardboard box that the Ruger came in and a box of cartridges on the counter next to the sink. The evidence was shown to the jury.

Fonville said they also recovered a thumb drive, an SD card and a Sony voice recorder.

Before the court let out, the jury heard one of those voice recordings, which was obtained during a search of Giles’ sister’s house in Oakdale, which she consented to without a search warrant.

According to prosecutors, Giles was recording conversations when she would meet Coutee, Jr. during child custody exchanges.

The jury could hear the couple arguing on the recording. Coutee, Jr. asked Giles questions pertaining to if she had been seeing and bringing other men around the kids.

She was still recording when she got into a vehicle and can be heard saying Coutee, Jr. was “playing with fire.”

Detective Butler’s testimony will continue in the morning on day three of the trial.

The court wrapped up just about an hour ago on day two of the Kayla Giles trial. Alena Noakes has the wrap-up from the courthouse.

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