Suspect in murder of teen was out on bond for another shooting arrest at the time of the killing

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BATON ROUGE, LA – The Baton Rouge Police Department announced Wednesday that officers have arrested Javonta Broden, 18, who was wanted in connection with a second-degree murder charge earlier this month.

Broden is alleged to have shot and killed another teenager, Christopher Fields, on Sept. 11.  at the Renaissance Gateway Apartment complex near downtown Baton Rouge.

Broden had been on the run until the Louisiana State Police Fugitive Task Force helped BRPD detectives track him down.

WAFB News previously reported that Broden had already been one of two suspects arrested after a shooting on Mother’s Day weekend.  Broden, along with Desmond Rogers, 17, allegedly injured five customers May 10 in a shoutout at a local grocery store.  A 12-year-old child was among the victims, as well as two adult males and two adult females.

Within three days, both suspects had been arrested and charged with five counts each of attempted murder in the first degree.  They were booked and sent to the East Baton Rouge Parish Prison.

During a May 14 press conference, BRPD Chief Murphy J. Paul Jr., shared the department’s gratitude for tips called in by citizens:

“It’s important I acknowledge that it was concerned citizens in our community, who are tired of the violence that’s going on . . . who took the time to pick up the phone and call Crime Stoppers,  and provide information that led to the arrests of these two individuals.

“Thank you, Baton Rouge.  Thank you for your help, and for doing your part.”

The Advocate obtained court documents stating that Broden was able to post bail on Aug. 20, which was set at $250,000.  The bond had been reduced from $325,000 after his defense lawyer filed a financial hardship motion. 

The motion was granted Aug. 5 by Judge Bonnie Jackson of the 19th Judicial District.  Just 22 days after his release, Broden allegedly killed Fields.  His appearance in court was scheduled for the week of Sept. 27.

Broden had also previously been charged with armed robbery in the mugging of an individual at gunpoint in April.  He and another suspect allegedly forced the mugging victim to hand over his phone and cash.

Highlighting a definite grievance pertaining to this part of the criminal justice system, chief investigative reporter with WBRZ News posted this tweet in response to the latest shooting attributed to Broden:

“This is disturbing and highlights the problems in our court system.”

The reporter had completed a piece the week prior about a similar Baton Rouge case.  In that case, Henry Claiborne, another attempted-murder suspect with a history of easily making bond and skipping court dates, was released to allegedly commit more crimes.

Stephanie Bailey, grandmother of Tavonte Perkins, who was paralyzed in that shooting, stated in an interview:

“The problem is the system.  I don’t know what they do when they decide who they are going to let out, and it should be a structured system.”

Claiborne is accused of shooting Perkins in 2018, leaving Perkins paralyzed from the chest down.  The incident destroyed the former high school football star’s hopes of playing college football.  He is now permanently confined to a wheelchair and requires around-the-clock care.

Bailey continued to express her frustration in the WBRZ interview:

“I would definitely like someone to answer that question for me. Why?  It’s obvious that he continues to commit crimes. Why do you continue to let him out?”

Please read on for an article by Gregory Hoyt that further highlights the problems with allowing bond opportunities for repeat offenders.

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HOUSTON, TX  A Houston man who has a past inundated with violent criminal convictions and was jailed for other serious criminal offenses in 2019 was said to have made bond in April last year – and allegedly committed a murder while on bond.

The man was supposed to be held without bond following the murder charge, but recently a judge has offered the suspect an opportunity to bond out once again.

Since 2013, Vernon Menifee, 24, has managed to accrue six felony convictions including assault with a deadly weapon.

Back in early 2019, Menifee was arrested and charged with engaging in organized criminal activity and being a felon in possession of a weapon.

Menifee managed to bond of out jail on those charges, as well as additional charges for burglary.

Suspect in murder of teen was out on bond for another shooting arrest at the time of the killing
Vernon Menifee – Houston Police Department

Come April  2020, police say that Menifee killed 29-year-old Guy Anthony Owen Allen. Andy Kahan with Crime Stoppers was among those who felt that Menifee shouldn’t have even been able to bond out in the first place back in 2019. Kahan stated:

“The sad reality is Menifee should have been locked up before he could even commit the murder.”

When Menifee was denied bond for the murder charges, Kahan was at least pleased that the alleged killer wouldn’t have an opportunity to hit the streets until tried for the charges. He said:

“Finally the court said no more, Mr. Menifee. Every time we keep letting you out on bond you keep reoffending and it gets worse and worse and there’s nothing worse than murder.”

Kahan and others thought Menifee wouldn’t be able to bond out once again.

Turns out, that 209th Criminal District Court Judge Brian Warren recently decided to afford bond for Menifee to the tune of $150,000. Now this repeat offender and alleged murderer could be free once again if he’s able to gather up 10 percent of that bond amount.

Kahan was flabbergasted that a judge would consider affording bond to this serial offender. He said:

“What on Earth makes you think he’s going to abide by any laws of society based on his track record? You’ve got to be delusional to think this way.”

The judge has currently not released any statement on the rationale for changing the status of Menifee being denied bond back in 2019.

Also within Houston, police say there’s a massive manhunt underway for a killer who killed again.

Gerald Washington, 27, was out on bond for murder charges, Houston Police said in a press release.

The department has not released details on the latest crime they believe Washington is connected to but officers have given information on his prior case.

Houston Police Department’s Homicide Division said in the press release that Washington shot and killed someone in February.

According to court documents, that is when Washington was arrested in connection with a deadly drive-by shooting near a Houston convenience store at Scott and Stassen streets.

A witness told investigators that Washington was a regular customer at the store. On the afternoon of the killing, court documents say Washington came into the store and left, returning about an hour later with the victim.

An investigator writes in the filing:

“The defendant’s bodily language and movements noticeably change and based on my training and experience I believe that he showed signs of anxiety.”

As the victim is inside the store, court documents say, Washington left in the stolen car he arrived in and drove down the street. They say, when the victim left the store and got into his own car Washington pulled up alongside him, came to a stop and fired a gun twice.

The victim, Reginald Larry, was shot in the head and pronounced dead at a Houston-area hospital.

Until the most recent alleged crime for which he is now wanted, the February murder was the latest crime associated with Washington’s lengthy rap sheet. Court records show he’s been arrested for more than a dozen crimes, including aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, burglary of a building, evading arrest or detention, assault with bodily injury and possession of drugs.

The Houston Police Officers’ Union posted on Facebook on Feb. 14, following Washington’s arrest:

This is Gerald Washington. While on Deferred Adjudication x 2, commits Murder and Agg Assault x 2… Posts bail on all four charges and commits Agg Assault and Murder.

Police say Washington is 6 feet tall and weighs 165 pounds.

Houston Crime Stoppers tweeted that there is now a $5,000 reward for information that may lead to the identification, charging or arrest of the suspect in the case.

Information can be reported to the Crime Stoppers line by calling 713-222-TIPS (8477) or it can be submitted online at www.crime-stoppers.org. 

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