Update:  State District Judge Mike Erwin released two men charged with attempted murder on $350,000 bond:  Melvin Vernell, Jr. and Marcus Roach.  Both men proclaim they are rap music executives.  To add insult to injury, Judge Erwin ‘sternly’ ordered the two subs to not engage in any contact with the victims, family members or witnesses involved in the case.  These same two men were charged with attempted murder in 2005, but the case was dismissed when witnesses feared for their lives and refused to testify.  Now, they are charged for the SECOND time, yet allowed on bond.  As you read this, they are walking the streets of the Red Stick. 

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Perhaps it’s the Red Stick murder rate that was the impetus this brought this issue to my attention.  Or, it could be the fact that I believe the prison system was built to house those who are a danger to society.  Either way, the last thing we want to see are violent offenders and murderers walking the streets of the Red Stick.

The justice system is broken.  Those words resonate with all of us.  Building larger prisons is not the answer.  If it were, we would gladly pay for a new prison in the parish.  We house criminals of all types, but allow those charged with murder to run free.  What’s wrong with this picture?

Today I am mindful of the role Judges play in allowing murderers to roam the streets of the Red Stick.  Judges are powerful individuals.  They are large and in charge of their courtrooms, and their decisions ripple throughout our community.  Judges have the power to hold or release murderers, and their decisions to set or reduce bail can be mind boggling.

When murderers are released back into society prior to their trial, I shake my head and ask one question:  “What was that judge thinking?”

Gregory Harris is charged with brutally murdering his wife, Chiquita Tate, a Red Stick attorney.  His bond was originally set at $500,000, but reduced to $300,000 by Judge Trudy White.  Harris is a convicted felon that was found to be in possession of stolen goods and driving around a stolen Mercedes.  Tate was stabbed 38 times.  38 times?  YES, 38 TIMES!  Harris is walking around the Red Stick right now on a reduced bond.

Some would argue this was a crime of passion.  Who cares?  Stolen vehicle + 38 stab wounds = danger to society!

Freddie Powell was charged with the 2004 murder of Andre Chinn in the Red Stick.  District Judge Chip Moore reduced Powell’s bond from $200,000 to $75,000.  The same morning of his court appearance in which his bond was reduced, it was later uncovered that Powell and his partners in crime broke into a home, held a couple and their children at gunpoint and robbed them of $800.  Powell was considered an armed and dangerous fugitive walking the streets of the Red Stick.  Fortunately, he was recently caught.

Some might say at least he’s been caught.  Murdered man + holding a family hostage = danger to society!

Denako Duheart and his brother, Dearieus, beat Jason Fourmy for 24 hours and then burned his body and dumped it in a remote wooded area.  The two eye witnesses to the murder were also killed.  Ironically, Chiquita Tate was Deanko’s attorney.  Judge Trudy White set his bail at $250,000, and he is currently walking the streets of the Red Stick as well.

Duheart’s brother, Dearieus, was also released on $280,000 bond.  Less than two months later, he was arrested in a traffic stop while driving at 11:20 p.m. with no headlights.  Officers found Dearieus in possession of liquid codeine packaged for sale, and for driving with an expired driver’s license.  Judge Lou Daniel set his bail in the second incident at $25,000.  He is roaming somewhere around the Red Stick as you read this post.

Some say innocent before proven guilty.  Man beat for 24 hours + burned to death + both witnessed also murdered = danger to society!

The stories are almost endless. 

They tell us that approximately 13% of criminals commit the majority of crimes, and that 50% of violent felons are repeat offenders.  Free on bond.  Violent perpetrators.  Walking around freely.  Driving alongside you in the Red Stick, passing by your children on the playground.  Dangers to society!

I find it most disconcerting that we scrutinize political candidates, but when Judges run for office very little media is focused on the men and women who will make some of the most critical decisions that affect public safety.  If we were provided with the disposition of Judge’s cases, would we be willing to re-elect those who cavalierly release murderers and violent offenders back into society? 

Let’s see if I get this right.  We won’t release Edwin Edwards, but we’ll release a murderer back on the streets of the Red Stick?  Yes, the system is more broken than we are willing to admit. 

Now, explain to me one more time why Mayor Holden’s tax to build a new prison is a good idea?

Until next time,

Red Stick Republican

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