Donte Fielding, the accused gunman in the shooting death of a five-term Claiborne Parish police juror and business owner, has been sentenced to life in prison. The punishment was handed down in Bienville Parish court.
A Bienville Parish jury convicted 21-year-old Fielding of second-degree murder in November 2012.
Under Louisiana law those convicted of second degree murder must serve a mandatory term of life imprisonment without the benefit of probation, parole or suspension of sentence.
Fielding is accused of the Dec. 16, 2010 shooting death of a Summerfield businessman and District 1 police juror Brian “Butch” Bays. The body of the 72-year- old was found on the floor of his store – Butch’s Country Store and Bait House, by a customer. Authorities say Bays had been shot multiple times in the back. Robbery is said to have been the motive.
On Dec. 20, 2010 a murder warrant was issued for Fielding one day before Bays’ funeral. The then 19-year-old was booked and initially charged with first degree murder. In January 2011 Hardy Taylor, Jr., of Summerfield, was also arrested and charged with first degree murder in connection to Bays’ death. Taylor was 19 years old at the time and is scheduled for trial later this month.
Under normal circumstances the two trials would have played out in Claiborne Parish, the area in which the alleged crime took place. However, according to the Claiborne Parish Clerk of Court’s Office, a change of venue was granted after some argued that the accused would not receive a fair trial in Claiborne since Bays was so well known in the area. As a result, court proceedings were pushed to Bienville. Both parishes are part of the 2nd Judicial District.