Judge releases accused killer without bond, but here’s what the media didn’t report about the victim

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MEMPHIS, TN – A gas station clerk accused of unlawfully shooting a man in his store parking lot has now been released prior to trial without having to post bond, which has upset the victim’s family in the case.

Was this another judge soft on crime? Or perhaps a judge that was able to see things the media isn’t showing us in this case?

Reports say that the shooting took place on May 19th in the early morning hours, around 1:40 a.m., in the parking lot of a Circle-K located in the city of Cordova. Nicholas Vitatoe is the 41-year-old gas station clerk at the center of the case, as police charged Vitatoe in the death of Marvell Locke.

Judge releases accused killer without bond, but here's what the media didn't report about the victim
Nicholas Vitatoe

According to preliminary details in the case, police said that 59-year-old Locke allegedly approached Vitatoe and asked if he could clean the store’s parking lot. When authorities reviewed the surveillance footage from the store, they noted that Vitatoe called police about Locke being on the property.

Furthermore, police did confirm that Locke has been arrested on three different occasions at that very gas station, but did not specify as to what those previous arrests were for.

Allegedly, Vitatoe told police when he called them about Locke being on the property that he wouldn’t wait for the cops and that he would handle this himself.

Vitatoe was said to have ventured out of view from the camera, shot Locke, and then walked back into the store and placed the gun on the store counter and phoned his boss.

After a brief investigation, Vitatoe was charged with voluntary manslaughter.

When he stood before a judge on May 21st, the judge decided that Vitatoe was okay to be freed pending trial without having to post bond. The victim’s daughter, Francheskia, was outraged at the move by the judge:

“I’m hurt. I’m angry. I’m lost. I’m confused. The judge basically let him go because he had a good military background, and he didn’t have a criminal past background.”

It’s not only the judge’s decision to free Vitatoe without posting bail that upset the victim’s daughter, but the fact that the suspect was only charged with voluntary manslaughter instead of premeditated murder:

“I feel like it was premeditated murder.”

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The daughter further alleged that her father did nothing wrong in the encounter. However, she wasn’t actually a witness to the encounter that led to the arrest of Vitatoe.

So, it does beg the question of why the judge would see it fit to release someone without bail who’s being accused of voluntary manslaughter.

When Law Enforcement Today heard about the three arrests of the victim linked to the scene of the alleged crime before his death, we did a little digging into Locke’s criminal record.

Judge releases accused killer without bond, but here's what the media didn't report about the victim
Marvell Locke

Turns out Locke has quite the collection of mugshots acquired in Tennessee. Eighteen of them to be exact.

Judge releases accused killer without bond, but here's what the media didn't report about the victim
Marvell Locke

It wasn’t exactly easy tracking down all of Locke’s arrests in the state, as it turns out in several of his bookings his first name was listed as “Marvel” instead of “Marvell.”

Judge releases accused killer without bond, but here's what the media didn't report about the victim
Marvell Locke

In order to jump into the mind of the judge, it would only be fair that we be able to see what the judge likely saw about the victim. Here are just a few of Locke’s previous arrests and charges:

  • Aggravated criminal trespass in May 2020
  • Domestic assault causing bodily harm in May 2020
  • Disorderly conduct, harassment, obstructing a driver’s view, and public intoxication in October 2019
  • Eight counts of indecent exposure, two counts of disorderly conduct, two counts of obstructing a highway, two counts of public intoxication in September 2018
  • Two counts of aggravated criminal trespass and two counts of disorderly conduct in April of 2018
  • Assault, criminal trespass and disorderly conduct in March of 2016
  • Two counts of aggravated assault in June of 2013
Judge releases accused killer without bond, but here's what the media didn't report about the victim
Marvell Locke

That isn’t even all the charges that Locke has attained over the past few years, and there’s no telling if there were previous arrests in other states if the victim had resided elsewhere.

Perhaps when the judge reviewed the lack of a criminal record of a military veteran who had some kind of encounter with a man arrested at least 18 times in the past seven years for some violent crimes and exposing himself, that may have played into the decision on the release of the accused.

This will certainly be an interesting case to follow, as there seems to be more layers to this onion than what is being presented topically by the mainstream media. 

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