Testimony Wednesday in the trial of a man accused of killing his girlfriend in Beaumont over two years ago consisted mostly of that of a police detective and centered on DNA evidence.
Sean Jeffery Lavergne is charged with murder in the Sept. 12, 2015 death of Reggie Jokodola, 38, of Beaumont. Jokodola was found dead in the duplex she shared with Jokodola in the 2300 block of Angelina Street near Old Town in Beaumont.
TESTIMONY FROM WEDNESDAY
The prosecution called Beaumont Police Detective Aaron Lewallen to the stand Wednesday morning. He said the apartment was in disarray and there were pieces of broken glass scattered around when he arrived. Prosecutors played a video interview with Lavergne, stopping the video periodically to ask the detective questions. In the video, the fire marshal told the defendant that the fire was set intentionally. The fire marshal asked the defendant if he was around any flammable liquids and he said no. The video shows Lavergne admitting to having an argument with Jokodola because she was snorting too much cocaine. He was angry because she tried to call for more drugs. Detective Lewallen also mentioned DNA evidence taken from the scene.
The state rested its case around 2 p.m. and the defense began calling witnesses.
The defense wanted to call up a witness named Jordan Marshall who was the apparent drug dealer for Jokodola and Lavergne according to a statement Lavergne made to police in a video interview.
However, Marshall was advised by his lawyer not to testify because he is currently in federal custody with a case pending.
The second witness is phone analyst Christian Mamarelo. He testified concerning the examination of phones belonging to the defendant and the victim. A voice mail from Lavergne was played during Mamarelo’s testimony; in it, the jury heard the defendant asking Reggie to open the door. Mamarelo also mentioned numerous text messages and photos from the phones. He also examined Lokodola’s phone and said the last call she made on her phone was to police.
Court proceedings wrapped up around 3 p.m. Wednesday and are expected to resume at 8:45 a.m. Thursday.
TESTIMONY FROM TUESDAY
Dash cam video was played to the jurors Tuesday morning. In the video a neighbor can be heard telling police they heard a disturbance in the apartment and called police.
Beaumont Police Officer Tera Morales is one of the first witnesses who testified Tuesday. She said there was a small fire at the apartment when officers arrived. She described helping Beaumont Fire-Rescue EMT's as they worked the scene. She testified that Lavergne was under the influence of drugs and was acting erratically outside of the apartment complex. She said he kept telling officers there was his girlfriend was still inside the apartment. When first responders entered the apartment complex the victim was found dead on the floor. She said the victim’s body had several burn marks, blood and cuts. Officer Morales testified that police believe Lavergne was in the room before they arrived because he knew exactly where her body was located inside the apartment. Her testimony ended around 10:30 a.m.
The next witness, an I.D. Technician for the Beaumont Police Department, showed the jury photos taken at the scene. The photos included images of the victim and the apartment from the day of the incident.
Just before noon Constable Earl White took the stand. He was a Beaumont Fire-Rescue captain and responded to the scene the day of the incident. He testified that firefighters did not put the fire out with water; the fire had burned itself out by the time they arrived. White testified that the fire was intentionally set. He said flammable liquids were found inside the apartment. Constable White was the last to take the stand before proceedings broke for lunch Tuesday.
Forensic pathologist Dr. John Wayne took the stand when proceedings resumed Tuesday afternoon. Dr. Wayne performed the autopsy. He described the injuries he found on the victim’s body including burns, stab wounds and a force injury to her head. He noted traces of alcohol, cocaine and Xanax in the victim’s system. He concluded that she died from an assault and was dead before the fire started. He also said the drugs in her system were not the cause of her death. Photos taken during the autopsy were shown to the jury during Dr. Wayne’s testimony.
Monique Young, a next-door neighbor of the couple, took the stand Tuesday afternoon. She said she was about to go to bed when she heard Jokodola loudly telling someone to get their hands off of her. During cross examination the defense continuously asked her about details in her original statement. She testified that she did not remember some of the specifics of her written statement.
The last witness to testify Tuesday is Eri Fontenot. He is another neighbor of the couple. He told the jury he heard the couple arguing at night. He said he didn't think it was odd because he knew they had a rocky relationship. He described Lavergne banging loudly on his door shouting that Jokodola was stuck inside their home and that there was a fire. He said he believed Lavergne was, "putting on a show."
The trial is held in the 252nd District court. 12News Jacque Masse is in court today.