Judge Greg Beard sets new bond for Kayla Giles

Bond for 2nd deg. murder set at $1.5 million, bond for obstruction set at $500,000
Published: Nov. 9, 2020 at 10:23 AM CST
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ALEXANDRIA, La. (KALB) - Kayla Giles, the woman accused of shooting and killing her estranged husband, Thomas Coutee, Jr. in a Walmart parking lot in Sept. 2018 during a custody exchange, was back in court Monday on a series of motions.

Last month, Giles was arrested again on a warrant out of East Baton Rouge Parish, where she and another woman are accused of using the identities of more than two dozen people to fraudulently obtain about $300,000 in unemployment benefits.

On Monday, following a motion filed by the Louisiana Attorney General’s Office to have her bond revoked due to the subsequent arrest, Rapides Parish Judge Greg Beard set a new bond in her second degree murder and obstruction of justice case.

The new bond is $1.5 million for second degree murder and $500,000 for obstruction of justice. If she makes bond, the same bond conditions as before apply.

One of the motions taken up on Monday pertained to an effort by Giles' attorneys, George Higgins and Rocky Willson, to suppress evidence that was seized by the Alexandria Police Department from her apartment in the days following her arrest for the shooting.

Devin Ainsworth, her landlord at the time of the shooting, was called to testify. According to Ainsworth, he became concerned following her arrest of a pet living inside the apartment that might have been left behind. He testified that he contacted the Alexandria City Marshal’s Office to grant them permission to enter the apartment to get the animal out.

Higgins questioned Ainsworth about the lease agreement and the rights of the tenant. Later, he questioned Assistant City Marshal Chris Pruitt, who entered the apartment and spotted a gun box on the counter, about why he didn’t call the jail for Giles' consent to enter.

“You could have done several things other than going in property that wasn’t yours. [...] Lets be honest, you wanted to peak in that apartment, didn’t you?”

George Higgins to Asst. City Marshal Chris Pruitt

When Pruitt discovered the gun box, he called the Alexandria Police Department. Officers then obtained a warrant and seized the item.

Judge Greg Beard ruled in favor of the state and allowed the item into trial.

The state introduced two motions that pertained to evidence of other crimes allegedly committed by Giles. The first pertained to an alleged theft of money from Coutee, Jr.'s bank account. The second pertained to two allegations of battery by Giles.

Assistant Attorney General Brooke Harris argued that the report pertaining to the theft was filed with the Alexandria Police Department just three days before the murder.

An additional Rapides Parish Sheriff’s Office report about an alleged battery that took place in May 2018 included a screenshot of a text message in which Giles was alleged to have text a friend, "I just knocked the s**t out of Thomas. It felt good tho.”

Both motions were allowed in by Judge Beard.

The defense withdrew a motion they had filed last month pertaining to an effort by Giles to move to New York for employment. A reason for the withdraw was not given.

The defense filed a motion to suppress dealing with Giles' arrest based on probable cause and not through an arrest warrant. Detective William Butler with the Alexandria Police Department was called to testify about the timeline from when the shooting happened, to her being transported to police headquarters and later giving a statement.

According to Butler, Giles was detained at the scene of the Walmart after police were called to the scene and the responding officer spotted aid being given to Coutee, Jr. in the parking lot. Butler told the court that when the responding officer asked who shot Coutee, Jr., Giles came forward and said she said because, “he scared me.”

Giles was with her three children at the time of the shooting. The children were sent to the Children’s Advocacy Center for interviews, with the exception of the daughter she shared with Coutee, Jr., who was too young to be questioned.

There was some debate about if Coutee, Jr. was the aggressor. One child apparently told staff at the center that Coutee, Jr. was “jumping at” their mother. Further information from the statements is sealed by the court.

Butler told the court that Giles initially invoked her right to an attorney and chose not to talk to him at the department. He said she later knocked on the door, telling him she changed her mind, and proceeded to share her side of the story after being read her rights once again. Butler said he didn’t buy her story.

“Her fake crying. I called her out on that. No emotion.”

Det. William Butler

There was also debate about surveillance video from the Sonic nearby and if Coutee, Jr. tried to open the door to Giles' vehicle when he was shot.

“I don’t think anyone can tell who opened that door,” Butler testified. Butler also said there’s no audio to accompany the video.

“There was no force on force,” Butler testified. “Mr. Coutee was unarmed.”

Judge Beard denied the defense’s attempt to suppress the statement.

One of the final motions considered pertained to an Oklahoma judge handling a custody dispute involving Giles and the father of one her daughters who witnessed the shooting.

Judge Greg Beard sided with the Louisiana Attorney General’s Office and prohibited her from participating in a weekly phone call with the girl, despite an Oklahoma judge granting it, because of concerns that the child could speak to her siblings and possibly influence them if they were to be called as witnesses.

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