Alderman Angered That Car Break-In Brutes Released on Bail

Jason HolmesKhatira RogersEric BucknerLamont BrownPhillip Devine
St. Louis Evening Whirl
An ineffectual circuit attorney and a soft-on-crime judge are under fire this morning for allowing a destructive band of car thieves to be released back to the streets on bail. Police believe the six suspects committed more than 100 car break-ins mostly in downtown neighbor-hoods since at least 2014. Initially, their bail was set at $150,000.
But Judge Nicole Colbert Botchway reduced bail for three of them to $50,000 on April 27. They were allowed to post 10 percent of it, which they did, and were released! Two of those suspects, Lamonte Brown, 34, and Jason Holmes, 38, were charged with three counts each of property crime and stealing. Khatira Hunt-Rogers was charged with one count of stealing.
The bleeding heart judge reduced Hunt-Rogers’ bail to $10,000 from $20,000. She posted 10 percent on April 23. Police believe Brown and Holmes broke into cars in the city and took the ill-gotten swag to Hunt-Rogers’ home. On Wednesday, Alderman Jack Coatar, whose district includes a portion of the area that the thieves targeted, said he attended a hearing in which he and detectives who worked the case helped inform the judge about the gravity of the thefts and why these predators should NOT be free on bail without conditions. Coatar said Kim Gardner’s office did NOT notify the detectives before the April bail reduction hearing. Prosecutors also didn’t tell the defense about a hearing that was supposed to take place during the second week of May, so the matter had to be pushed back until Wednesday, further delaying the chance to add conditions to the suspects’ bail.
“This is all messed up, this is unbelievable,” Coatar said. “The prosecutor didn’t give the judge any information. When you know it’s a big case and there’s going to be lots more charges added, the prosecutor should let the police know, the victims know and the court know so they can have all the information, and that didn’t happen, so these guys all walked. “Here we are, weeks later, (trying) to get them on monitoring so we can know where these guys are,” Coatar said the circuit attorneys office asked the judge Wednesday to impose conditions on the bail, including an order requiring the suspects to stay out of downtown and have GPS monitoring placed on them at his and the detectives’ behest. The judge agreed.“ That’s what’s so frustrating about the whole thing, it’s been all over the paper, all over the news and the next thing we know, these guys are out on the streets because the prosecutor can’t do her job,” Coatar said.
While some are understandably upset that Botchway slashed bail for these suspects, Coatar said it’s not her fault. “It was obvious by Judge Botchway’s reaction that she obviously sided with the Circuit Attorney and our request for monitoring, but you could see by the look on her face that she wishes she would have had this information weeks ago.
“She’s a great judge and she can’t make a decision if the prosecutor doesn’t give her the information.” Susan Ryan, the spokeswoman for the circuit attorney’s office, said Wednesday that prosecutors did oppose the bail reduction, but “prosecutors don’t make bond reduction decisions.”
“Judges make those decisions,” she wrote. “We asked for $150,000 cash bond when we first issued these charges, and that was granted. We actively opposed the recent reduction of the bond.
“We secured the $150,000 initial cash-only bond because we were told by police that they would bring more evidence to us for additional charges. Police have not done that to date.”


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