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Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Philip Fontaine's widow and son open up about the trial

Fontaine murder trial: Jury Deliberations Day 2

Last week on the eve of the defense presenting their case to the jury, murder victim Philip Fontaine's widow, Ashley Fontaine, gave a brief statement to reporters about the accused killer and the Fontaine family's former employee, Benito Flores.


Moments later, the victim's son Grant chimed in, not yet aware of what the defense had in store.


Tuesday afternoon, Ashley and Grant Fontaine sat down with Crime Beat to talk about the case.

Crime Beat: Thank you both for talking to us. This is the first time you've granted an interview since Mr. Fontaine was killed, isn't it?

Ashley Fontaine: We didn't want to say anything that might affect the ability of the sheriff's department and the district attorney to bring Philip's murderer to justice.

CB: What could you have said?

AF: That's just it. It could be anything. You've seen how the defense twisted things to try to make an innocent person look guilty. Who knows what they might have tried?

CB: So you were expecting them to put the blame on Grant?

AF: Grant was going through a difficult period at the time Philip was killed, and that made him an easy target. But he didn't kill his father, and that man knows it as well we as we do.

CB: By "that man," you mean Benito Flores?

AF: He knows Grant didn't kill Philip, but that didn't stop him from saying such terrible things about him in public. It's despicable.

CB: The last week must've been very difficult for you then?

AF: Every day since Philip was killed has been difficult. But yes, the last week has been even more so. It was very hard to just sit there and listen to them lie and not be able to do anything about it.

CB: To be fair, between your infidelity and Grant's drug use, the two of you did give the defense plenty of ammunition to work with.

Grant Fontaine: Hey! Don't talk to her like that.

AF: Grant, it's OK. We both made mistakes in the past. That's true. But nothing either of us ever did is as bad as what Benito Flores did. He murdered Philip in cold blood, and he has to pay for that.

CB: I understand your family worked closely with Mr. Dollarhide as he developed his case. What did you do to help him?

AF: We did what he asked, answered his questions, things like that.

CB: Did you have an attorney advising you on what to share with the prosecutor and what not to?

AF: We cooperated with them to the best of our ability.

CB: So you did or did not have the advice of an attorney in your dealings with the prosecutor?

AF: There are a lot of considerations to take into account with Philip's business and his other children and his estate. We would have been foolish not to listen to the recommendations of the family attorney.

CB: Grant, you've always denied any involvement in your father's death, and the district attorney didn't see fit to charge you with anything related to the murder. Why do you think the defense named you as the real killer?

GF: When Benny knew me, I had a real problem with drugs, and he knew it because he was the one selling them to me. He probably thought he could say I did it and people would believe him because of that.

CB: You don't think they will?

GF: I really hope not. I didn't kill my father. No matter how much we argued, I would never do that. He was my father and I loved him, in spite of everything.

CB: In spite of what?

GF: In spite of the fact that we didn't really get along the last few years of his life. My father wasn't an easy man to get along with, but I can see now that dealing with me back then wasn't exactly easy either. But if Benny hadn't killed him, I think my father and I could've settled our differences. Now, we'll never have that chance.

CB: You talk like your struggle with drugs is behind you. Is that true?

GF: I'll always be an addict. That never goes away. But I've been clean for over a year now, and I plan to stay that way.

CB: Congratulations. That's not easy.

GF: Thanks. One day at a time.

CB: The jury has been deliberating for almost two full days now. Are you surprised it's taking them this long to reach a verdict?

AF: It's frustrating because we already know he's guilty, and it's a little hard to understand what's taking them so long to figure that out. But there's nothing we can do to make them decide faster, so we'll just have to be patient. They'll find him guilty eventually whether it's today or later this week. We've waited almost two years for justice. We can wait a few more days.

CB: What will you do if they find him not guilty?

AF: I can't even imagine that happening. They heard all the evidence. There's no way they could find him not guilty. No way.

CB: If Benito Flores is acquitted, would you consider suing him in civil court?

AF: We've never considered that a real possibility, so we haven't even thought about what we might do if that happens.

GF: We don't need to think about that because he's going to be convicted.

The second day of deliberations ended without a verdict. The jury will resume deliberations Wednesday morning.

By Kemper Jones at 6:32 PM

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