Career criminals accused of wreaking havoc while out on bond; judges silent about their decisions
BATON ROUGE - Two different judges in the 19th Judicial District court are silent over their decisions to issue bonds to career criminals that got out and are now accused of committing more violent crimes.
Victims' advocates said the catch-and-release program that Baton Rouge is participating in needs to end.
"Being law enforcement, I witnessed a lot of people where days and nights they tried to put people behind bars and they weren't listened to," retired advocate Carolyn Stapleton said. "It was a revolving door. And they were very unhappy, but they still did their job."
Stapleton is a retired sergeant with the East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff's Office who made it her life's work to stand up for victims of crimes and the families of those who died.
Stapleton said in other states there are court watchers that will publish names of judges so the public can make informed decisions about what the judges are doing.
"Be proud of your decision," Stapleton said. "Step up and say I'm so and so and this is why I made that decision, and come election day vote for me for making the decision to put a violent offender back out on the street."
In two different cases that came to light this week, violent offenders were cut loose due to bonds that were set by judges.
This week, the WBRZ Investigative Unit exposed Derian Bailey was a convicted killer tied to a murder in 2012. He was sentenced to 10 years in prison and later rearrested for attempted murder.
Judge Fred Crifasi set his bond this month at $300,000 for the attempted murder charge. It's unclear if Crifasi saw the prior killing conviction on Bailey's record when that bond was set. However, Bailey posted the bond and on Monday of this week, he led police on a chase that ended when he crashed his car, killing a passenger in his car.
During a news conference where city leaders addressed crime this week, Luke Simmons was another name that was mentioned. Simmons has a long rap sheet dating back to the year 2000. He has arrests for first-degree murder, resisting an officer, domestic abuse battery, second-degree murder and attempted second-degree murder.
Despite a laundry list of charges, Judge Eboni Johnson Rose issued him a $115,000 bond in February on the second-degree murder charge. Weeks ago, an arrest warrant was issued for Simmons' arrest tied to a drive-by shooting that happened while he was out on bond.
"Any decision I make in life or you make in life, I have to say this is why I did it and stand behind it," Stapleton said. "What makes them different? I'm not going to discuss the case, but this is why I did it and I thought the bond should be this low."
Those sentiments were echoed by city leaders who attended a news conference Thursday.
"In many of these instances, far too often we are seeing rearrests of the same individuals who were arrested for other serious crimes," Mayor Sharon Weston Broome said. "This is not finger pointing or placing blame. It's telling the truth and it's the reality of what we are dealing with."
Judge Crifasi's office did not return our calls.
Judge Eboni Johnson Rose's office issued a statement saying her office could not comment on matters pending before the court.
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