MPD addresses the revolving door of repeat offenders

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In response to the recent high profile arrest of three teens with violent pasts who were granted bond, the Mobile Police Department issued the following statement.

When repeat violent offenders are able to bond out, the cycle of criminal activity begins again, leading to more crime. More has to be done as police are finding themselves chasing the same suspects that they have already arrested. Only 18 and 19 years of age, police have multiple times arrested Isaiah Kelly, Demetris Hunter and Hassan Jones.

“As we in law enforcement work tirelessly to remove those individuals in our community who are insistent upon committing violent acts, we must have support from the judicial branch of government,” said Chief of Police Lawrence Battiste.

This past weekend, the behavior of Kelly, Hunter and Jones caused a violent act of crime at a family event in broad daylight. Fortunately, no one was killed. Approximately two hours after the conclusion of the Trinity Gardens Parade, officers responded to a shooting at First Avenue and Main Street and found three bystanders with gunshot wounds. One sustained a wound to the foot, another to an ankle, and one with a graze wound to the hip.

Bullets fired also struck two unoccupied vehicles and an occupied dwelling.  Minutes later, just two blocks away at Warsaw Avenue and Main Street officers located Kelly, Hunter and Jones. Hunter and Jones were armed with handguns when taken into custody. Police believe the arrested suspects had an altercation with an unidentified male who also fired shots.

In 2015, Kelly was involved in the Dauphin Street at Monterrey Street shooting where the victim was shot in the eye during an attempted carjacking. Although Kelly was not the shooter in this incident, he was present and participated in the attempted carjacking.

Jones has prior arrests, beginning in 2015, for robbery first degree, shooting into an occupied/unoccupied building/vehicle, receiving stolen property second and fourth degree, attempting to elude and reckless endangerment.   

Dating back to 2016, Hunter was arrested and charged with assault second degree, shooting into an occupied vehicle, and no pistol permit. Each time he was granted bond and back on the street.

In November 2017, Kelly was arrested for a shooting at the Thomas Sullivan Community Center. Officers responding to the scene found two male victims, ages 15 and 16, suffering from non-life threatening gunshot wounds. The incident began at a birthday party and continued into the parking lot of the community center. Despite his history, Judge George Hardestry allowed Kelly a bond on the double shooting.

“We must do more to slow the revolving door that requires us to allocate duplicate resources in going after the same offenders over and over,” Battiste said. “We are thankful for what has been done but we need more.”

Kelly, Hunter and Jones were all out on bond on their previous charges when they were arrested for the triple shooting in Trinity Gardens. In a court appearance on Feb. 19, 2018, Mobile Police Detective Michael Ellzey and Assistant District Attorney Jessica Catlin pleaded with Judge Joe Basenberg to not allow bond on the current charges. Despite their plea, all three subjects were once again granted bond by Judge Basenberg.

Faced with the possibility that these three individuals could be released and continue their violent crime spree, the District Attorney’s Office quickly filed motions to revoke the bonds on the older cases. In separate hearings, Kelly, Hunter and Jones respectively had their bonds revoked by Judge Jill Phillips, Judge Sarah Stewart and Judge John Lockett.

“I am as perplexed as I am outraged that bond was granted on the triple shooting of innocent bystanders, despite the fact that all three suspects were out on bail for other violent offenses,” said Director of Public Safety James Barber.

“Although some judges argue that everyone has a constitutional right to pretrial bail, such rights are forfeited if a defendant commits another offense while on bail,” Barber said. “That’s not just my opinion, it’s the law.”

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