How did accused killers get out of jail? Here’s how…
Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard complained this week about judges releasing accused murderers on bond, after one allegedly shot a second victim in the face. He listed 45 defendants and wanted to know how they could return to the streets while awaiting trial.
But a review of jail records shows four of the defendants are not charged with murder. A few others remain locked up. And the man responsible for releasing two of the suspects was … Paul Howard.
The DA’s office this week released a list of 45 defendants in 43 homicide cases who are currently out on bond. A review of court files shows:
— An assistant to Howard dropped charges in April against two of the defendants, Travis Lawrence and Cedric Thompson, for lack of evidence. They were alleged to be accomplices of a gunman who killed a victim during a robbery.
— Terrance Hill is charged with harboring a murder suspect but was never accused of the murder.
— Two defendant, Eric Lamar Bridges and Joseph Pendergrass, were indicted for involuntary manslaughter, not murder. A judge last year threw out the case against Pendergrass, 55, who was accused of leaving an unattended candle burning in a home that caught fire, claiming the life of Atlanta firefighter Steven Solomon. Howard is appealing the ruling.
— Ernest Lambert was acquitted in 2003 of a murder charge related to a grisly chainsaw killing. He was re-indicted in October for kidnapping with bodily injury of the same victim, Demetrius Robbins.
Howard released the list of defendants after Tuesday’s arrest of Antoine Wimes, 17, who allegedly left his Fairburn home, shot a woman in the face and beat her 1-year-old son. Wimes was supposed to be confined to his home, under house arrest, while awaiting trial for the fatal 2008 shooting of a convenience store clerk.
Fulton County this week terminated the services of a private contractor that was monitoring an electronic ankle bracelet used to keep tabs on Wimes. He allegedly removed the device, but authorities were not notified until 13 hours later.
Yvette Brown, a spokesman for Howard, apologized Thursday for inaccuracies in the list of bonded-out defendants: “We need to revisit it.”