NEW ORLEANS, LA – Some might say that public faith in the criminal justice system is waning over the spikes in violent crime – not to mention instances in which someone accused of murder can be bonded out only to be arrested again for committing a new law violation.
A few weeks ago, Judge Angel Harris decided $7,600 bond and an ankle monitor were enough to protect the public from first degree murder suspect Byrielle Hebert as the judge set this woman (who allegedly shot a grandmother in the head) free from jail. 🧵 https://t.co/fkfDsJochp
— Fix New Orleans (@FixNOLA) March 5, 2022
Byrielle Hebert had been in custody for allegedly shooting and killing Zelda Townsend in 2019.
Townsend and her husband apparently stumbled upon a vehicle burglary at her home when police allege that Hebert and three other people who were with her got into a confrontation with them.
Someone in the group of three fired a gun and killed Townsend and injured her husband.
Hebert was taken into custody and given a $300,000 bond…that is until New Orleans Judge Angel Harris decided to lower that bond to a grand total of $8,000.
Of course, with that low of a bond, Hebert was able to leave the jail and given an electronic monitoring device that she was ordered to wear until the murder trial.
However, a short time after Hebert was free, she allegedly got into a fight with a relative of hers.
After the fight, Hebert removed the ankle monitor she was ordered to wear and attempted to flee the area. Thankfully, police were able to capture her before she was able to make her getaway.
Rafael Goyeneche, the President of the New Orleans Metropolitan Crime Commission, believes this is just one of many examples as to why the general public is losing any faith in the system. He said:
“What has really been injured, and I don’t know, you know, how long it’s going to take to recover from, is the image of the criminal justice system in general.
This type of case, this outcome, is not going to be soon forgotten by the general public and will absolutely negatively impact victim and witness cooperation with law enforcement.”
And this isn't the first time. Did Judge Angel Harris not learn from a prior tragedy that occurred because she reduced bond (and relied on an ankle monitor), freeing a violent criminal who went on to murder Portia Pollock? https://t.co/sJtwG7E7WU
— Fix New Orleans (@FixNOLA) March 5, 2022
Another recent event that caused others concern with Judge Harris’ decision on lowering bonds occurred in February of 2021.
In that instance, Judge Harris lowered the bond for Brian Andry from $250,000 to $100,000. Andry had been accused of participating in an armed robbery. With the lower bond, Andry was able to walk free from the jail.
However, three months after he had posted bond, he was arrested again, this time for murder. Andry was accused of stabbing Portia Pollock to death and stealing the elderly woman’s car.
Andry is no stranger to the criminal justice system, in fact, his criminal history dates back as far as 1991. Andry has several convictions for aggravated burglary, illegally carrying a weapon, and carrying a weapon.
Newell Normand published an article on WWL Radio New Orleans in June of 2021 in which he expressed disgust over Judge Harris’ decision, calling it gross negligence. He wrote:
“Meanwhile, Ms. Portia Pollack loses her life because Judge Angel Harris was losing sleep over Bryan Andray in jail. May she never sleep again, because this is negligence at its best. We lost a productive member of our community because of the negligence and the lack of care displayed by this criminal justice reform judge.”
The question now that should be on everyone’s mind is who else has she enabled being released from jail that will go on to commit additional violent acts? While there may be no way of knowing for sure, odds are the community is watching.
In 2020, the City of Pueblo had a reported 14 homicides throughout the year.
While that number itself is high enough, 2021 brought a 107 percent increase by rising to 29.
The Pueblo Police Department spoke to KRDO about the number of homicides the area has seen and noted they had identified who they believe is responsible for 25 of the murders.
Pueblo Police Chief Chris Noeller spoke about the impact the murders are not only having on the surviving family members but also the rest of the community:
“It’s tragic for the family members of those people that have been murdered. It’s tragic for our community.”
The Pueblo Police Department revealed the criminal history backgrounds to KRDO of those they believe are responsible for the murders in their city. Most of the people that are suspected of committing the murders are seemingly repeat criminal offenders.
The majority of those who are accused of murder, 13, are known gang members.
Two are previously deported illegal aliens that have come back into the country.
Nine of them have five or more felony arrests on their file.
Two of the suspects had 10 or more felony arrests while one of them had 15 or more. Three of the suspects were out on bond, parole, probation, or early release before the homicide. Five of them had no previous criminal history. Pueblo Police Sergeant Frank Ortega told KRDO:
“There are quite a few where if they were locked up, they would not be out killing people right now.”
“If they [alleged criminals] are going to bond out of jail, if they are going to be released out of prison and back into the streets of Pueblo there is only so much we can do.
We are repeatedly arresting violent offenders who are carrying weapons and are using those weapons in offenses and putting them in jail when they happen.
“Homicide is one of the hardest crimes to prevent because it is usually an emotionally based assault or decision that is made based on a relationship that the two people have.
However, people are being released repeated on bond after they have committed violent crimes, or not punishing people when they violate their parole, those kinds of things are putting them in a position where they can commit more violent crimes.”
The problem that Chief Noeller is highlighting is not central to the Pueblo area, but seemingly everywhere throughout the United States. Some judges have swung largely to the left in terms of criminal justice reform.
Those judges are typically allowing defendants to simply walk out of court after they have been arrested for a new offense or violated terms of their probation without any further consequences.
Some areas, like California and Chicago, are mandating offenders that are being released wear ankle monitors, however, leave it up to the suspects to make arrangements giving some the opportunity to walk away without one.
Critics of the latest trend of criminal justice reform point to this being the central issue were to why the violent crime rate is spiking throughout the nation, specifically in large metropolitan areas. Whether this is truly the cause of the increase in violent crime or not is up for debate.
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