Judge within discretion on suspect release

Published 6:00 pm Sunday, June 6, 2010

Brookhaven Municipal Judge Raymond Boutwell’s decision torelease a suspect in the downtown shooting of an elderly Brookhavenwoman, while causing uproar in the community, was apparently withinhis discretion, according to legal precedent.

Eva Pullen, 86, was shot in her vehicle as she sat in a handicappedparking spot in downtown Brookhaven in the middle of the day inlate April. Police quickly arrested brothers Quincy and DavidWalker, both of Brookhaven, in the incident. David Walker, 20, wasgiven $250,000 cash bond, while Quincy Walker, 22, was shipped outto a state facility since he was already on probation for previouscharges of conspiracy and possession of stolen property.

Meanwhile, David Walker was put in Lincoln County Jail. When he wasarrested, he was out on bond and had been indicted in the robberyof a North Jackson Street convenience store last October.

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A preliminary hearing on the April charges was continued once whileofficials said they waited for evidence to come back from the crimelab for a month. After that time, the preliminary hearing date cameup again.

A preliminary hearing, according to criminal proceduredocumentation from the Mississippi State Bar Association, is simplyto determine, based on evidence presented by the prosecution, thatthere was probable cause to make an arrest.

“The only issue at preliminary hearing is whether or not there wasprobable cause to make the arrest; most preliminary hearings areheld prior to indictment in felony matters,” the documentstates.

Brookhaven Police Department officials said evidence sent to thecrime lab, as well as statements from additional witnesses, willadd to the evidence at trial, but was unavailable for Tuesday’shearing.

As such, when evidence presented did not conclusively place DavidWalker at the scene of the shooting, Boutwell ruled that there wasnot sufficient evidence to hold him.

Neither Boutwell nor City Prosecutor Brad Boerner has been willingto comment on the case, both citing ethical obligations. However, asticking point remains over why Walker was allowed bond in thesecond armed robbery after being out on bond in the first.

Eric Brown, a criminal defense attorney with Coxwell and Associatesand an adjunct faculty member with the Mississippi College Schoolof Law, said the judge was simply following the law.

“At the preliminary hearing, the judge found no probable cause tobelieve that the accused committed the crime for which he was beingcharged, and the judge allowed the accused to stay out of jail onthe initial bond that was granted,” Brown said.

Brown went on to say that judges are sensitive to the safety oftheir communities.

“I feel that in this case, if the judge would have found that therewas any proof there was any danger to the community at large, thenthe accused would have remained locked up and bail would have benddenied,” Brown said.

Pointing out that everyone is innocent until proven guilty, Brownsaid the law as a general rule frowns on pretrial detainment of anindividual.

“The concept of bond is to ensure the accused is present at eachcourt proceeding, not to punish the accused monetarily,” Brownsaid.

Both Brookhaven Police Chief Pap Henderson and District AttorneyDee Bates have said that regardless of whether Walker is in or outof jail, the case against both Walker brothers will go to grandjury.

“If they indict him, they indict him and then I get to deal withhim,” Bates said last week.