Man acquitted of murdering Ascension teen speaks out in first sit-down interview
BATON ROUGE - Four days after 19-year old Jacob Westbrook was acquitted of murdering 18-year old Todd Toups, he sat down with WBRZ discussing his future plans and the sorrow he has for the Toups family.
"I'm sorry," Westbrook said. "I hate the grief you're going through. I doubt that you all will forgive me. If it was the other way around, I'd be highly angry. It's a nightmare and one I don't want to go through at all."
Westbrook was 16 years old at the time he stabbed Toups to death. According to Westbrook's lawyers, Toups showed up at a trailer where Westbrook was, tried to pick a fight and was the aggressor. That's when Westbrook got a knife. When Toups swung at him, he closed his eyes and used the knife. Toups died as a result of his injuries.
The jury believed the self-defense claims and acquitted Westbrook on Thursday night.
Westbrook was in jail for the last three years as he awaited a trial on those murder charges. During the time he was locked up, his attorneys said he was raped twice in jail.
"After being ordered by the court to be in protective custody he was sexually assaulted at the jail," defense lawyer Jarrett Ambeau said. "Went through the most foul and disgusting thing at a jail, a forcible sexual assault. So we've filed a federal lawsuit seeking damages."
Ambeau is working with defense lawyer Aidan Reynolds on that case. According to Ambeau, he feels for the Toups family but said the justice system worked as it should.
"I don't want to minimize the pain and the hurt those people are feeling," Ambeau said. "It's the system we have, and the system we have found Jacob Westbrook not guilty."
Westbrook said now that the jury has given him a second chance at life, he intends to get his driver's license, complete his GED and attend college someday. In the meantime, he wants to get hired at a shipyard and is currently living out of state.
"I learned to find myself," Westbrook said speaking about the three years he spent in jail.
Westbrook said he owes his life to his lawyers.
"For my attorneys, thank you," Westbrook said. "There's no way to express my gratitude and how deep it goes."