Man accused of murdering Rayne teenager let off of previous murder charge

Crime

RAYNE, La. (KLFY) — The man accused of slaying a 17-year-old teenager was previously convicted and sentenced for a murder charge.

However, a trial error and technicality caused the ruling of the case to be overturned.

In the late afternoon in December of 1997, just weeks before Christmas day, five shots rang out in a parking lot in Lafayette.

An eyewitness watched as suspects jumped into a car, watching as it sped off. The two suspects drove to a remote area in Evangeline Parish and set the car on fire.

Earl Zenon was inside of the car when it was set on fire, living out the last moments of his life.

On November 15, 2000, years after Zenon was killed, his family grew closer to getting closure.

Scott Cooper was formally charged and accused of assisting another suspect in killing Zenon.

Cooper was found guilty of principal to second degree murder. He was given a life sentence, with no chance of parole.

Rayne teenager found shot to death in parking lot, police asking for help in searching for suspect

For years Cooper had attempted to appeal his trial without success, claiming numerous civil rights violations.

In January of 2007, almost decade after Zenon was killed, Cooper was granted post conviction relief. A district court found Cooper was denied a fair trial when testimony was introduced against him in violation of his right to confront the witness against him.

The district court reversed Cooper’s conviction and sentence and ordered a new trial.

Cooper was granted a new trial and faced a less severe charge of principal to obstruction of justice.

He entered a no contest plea in March of 2012. Cooper was sentenced to 10 years in prison with credit for time served.

Over two decades has passed since Earl Zenon was shot and killed. Another family is now mourning the loss of their son.

17-year-old Garrison Gautreaux was shot and killed inside of his truck, according to police.

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