Port Arthur man found guilty, sentenced to 50 years

Port Arthur man found guilty, sentenced to 50 years

A Port Arthur man has been sentenced to 50 years incarceration after a Jefferson County jury found Leroy Gipson guilty of the 2018 killing of Roderick Wiltz.

Aug. 10, officers with the Port Arthur Police Department were called to Chop Shop Barbershop located on Gulfway Drive because of a stabbing incident. Dispatch advised as the officers were enroute that the suspect was possibly Gipson.

Upon their arrival to the scene, officers learned the victim of the stabbing had been transported to St. Mary hospital by a personal vehicle. When law enforcement officers arrived at the medical facility, emergency room staff informed them that Wiltz was unresponsive and had sustained a stab wound to the upper left torso, which punctured his heart and ultimately led to his death days later on Aug. 13.

Gipson had fled the scene prior to officers’ arrival but was located shortly after and was arrested for aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. According to the expected testimony from the arresting officer, Gipson was taken into custody without incident at the time and the knife used in the altercation was in Gipson’s possession.

During opening statements, Jefferson County prosecutor Mike Laird told jurors there was little dispute about the facts of the case, as Gipson had not refuted that the stabbing took place and he was responsible.

Timelining the events that led up to Wiltz’s death, Laird said Gipson would do odd jobs at the barber shop, which Wiltz would frequent socially. PAPD’s investigation revealed that the day before, on Aug. 9, there was an altercation between Gipson and Wiltz, who, to that point, had been on friendly terms. The two were separated. The next day, Gipson came into the shop as usual to work.

According to Laird’s statement to jurors, he described the witnesses’ anticipated recollections of the incident that put Gipson working while keeping an eye outside, “kind of like he was expecting something.”

Laird said shortly before Wiltz walked into the shop, Gipson went into the shop’s restroom. Once he came out, Gipson approached Wiltz and stood toe-to-toe.

“Leroy walked up to Roderick; Roderick took a swing at him,” he said. Following the punch, one witness said he saw Gipson’s hand move forward into Wiltz and once it came back, the witness saw the knife in his hand.

“It happened that quick,” said the prosecutor. “Then Leroy walked out.”

Following two days of testimony, Gipson was found guilty.