This guy, Craig Wall, a violent convicted recidivist felon, is a suspect in the murder of his five-week old son earlier this month. The baby’s mother then received a restraining order on Wall, and when he violated it last week, he was arrested. The investigation into the baby’s death — the fact that he was a murder suspect — should have been presented in court after his arrest. But the prosecutor simply didn’t mention it. Instead he offered Wall a plea deal, a small fine in exchange for pleading guilty. Wall even rejected the plea (hey, why take halfsies if it’s clear that nobody is going to bother to hold you responsible for anything, anyway?). He was granted bond instead — for $1,000 — also with the prosecutor’s blessing.
Then Wall walked out of the courtroom and killed his baby’s mother.
The better question might be, who isn’t responsible? The prosecutor’s boss, Pinellas County State Attorney Bernie McCabe, said he was “dumbfounded” by his employee’s actions.
Bernie McCabe, state attorney for Pinellas and Pasco counties, said his staff needs to be reminded of fundamental principles that were not followed in this case. His chief assistant, Bruce Bartlett, plans to meet today with prosecutors who handle misdemeanor hearings. “They are being paid to be advocates and not just stand there with their hands in their pockets,” Bartlett said.
Good for McCabe for acknowledging that something is horribly wrong. The question remains whether this is an isolated incident or the status quo in the offices McCabe oversees.
Wall is accused of stabbing to death Laura Taft, 29, early Wednesday . . . Two days earlier, Wall was released from the Pinellas County Jail on a $1,000 bond after a bail hearing. No one at the hearing mentioned that Wall was a suspect in the death of his 5-week-old son this month, even though police had noted that fact in the arrest affidavit.
So information about a murder charge is not even mentioned in a court hearing to determine whether a defendant who has violated a restraining order is too dangerous to be released on bond? What, then, does get mentioned?
Was the prosecutor just not doing his job? Or is he one of many prosecutors who are using their office to train to become defense attorneys — the more lucrative, and in many powerful circles, more culturally admired job? Was the prosecutor simply overwhelmed by work and forced to try to settle this case — any case — with minimum effort? This is how we starve the courts.
And what of the judge? What does he have to say?
Here is a related murder case in Orlando, with some interesting statistics.