Louisiana Man on Trial for Murder Says He Thought the Victim Was an Alligator

Prosecutors say Robert Chouest, 31, committed second-degree murder when he shot Shawn Galjour

Photo: Lafourche Parish Sheriff Department

A Louisiana man on trial for murder has claimed that he thought the victim was an alligator.

Robert Chouest, 31, is charged with second-degree murder for shooting 41-year-old Shawn Galjour in the head with a Browning rifle on May 22, 2013, WDSU reports.

Police say Chouest spotted Galjour lying in his grandparents’ driveway and called out to him. When he didn’t respond, Chouest set up his rifle 50 yards away and fatally shot the victim, according to the Daily Comet.

Sgt. Warren Callais testified Thursday that Chouest “stalked” the victim, walking in a crouching manner before he fired at his head.

“The defendant shot to kill Shawn Galjour,” Assistant District Attorney Annette Fontana said in her opening statement on Wednesday, according to WWL. “This was a senseless murder.”

But lawyers for Chouest maintain that he didn’t intend to kill a human being. In his opening statement, defense attorney George Ledet Jr. explained that the 31-year-old actually thought “he was shooting an alligator.”

Chouest, said Ledet, had been high for days prior to the incident, using cocaine, methamphetamine, prescription pills and alcohol. When he found out he’d killed a person, Chouest cried, according to Ledet.

However, in an interview with police at the time of the incident, Chouest initially told them that he thought the victim was an alligator before later admitting that he knew he’d shot a person, according to the Daily Comet.

But Ledet said Chouest, who was fearful of his family finding out about his drug use, was coerced into making that confession.

“Both of these young men had demons that perhaps controlled their lives, and for whatever reason, their paths met,” Ledet said.

The trial continues with testimony on Saturday.

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