Grand Jury indicts murder suspect who was mistakenly released, then re-arrested

Grand Jury indicts murder suspect who was mistakenly released, then re-arrested

NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - It’s a crime that struck a nerve with the community and the NOPD.

“We’re angry about it to be honest. We’re furious about it because this is Mother’s Day, and this is, of all the times, this should not be the time for this to occur,” says Commander Jeffrey Walls.

A grand jury indicted 21-year-old Donnell Brown for second-degree murder, attempted second-degree murder, aggravated assault and aggravated battery. Brown is accused of shooting to death 35-year-old Herbert Foster and injuring a 15-year-old girl after a Mother’s Day second line in Gentilly earlier this year.

“Whether or not he even aimed at that person, it doesn’t matter. If he had the intent to kill someone, he don’t get a break for bad marksmanship. He is indicted for murder,” says FOX 8 legal analyst Joe Raspanti.

Brown’s been in and out of jail since police first arrested him. Commissioner Jonathan Friedman let Brown walk free before the DA’s office could make a disposition in the case.

“It’s frightening the level of sloppiness that occurred in Commissioner Friedman’s court,” says Rafael Goyeneche, who heads watchdog group the Metropolitan Crime Commission.

According to Article 701, prosecutors had 120 days to secure an indictment against Brown. While police arrested him on June 1, Commissioner Friedman released him after 62 days in custody.

“So, here you had enough information to arrest a murder suspect and he was released, not because of his innocence, but because of a clerical mistake and sloppy work of a magistrate commissioner,” says Goyeneche.

Grand Jury indicts murder suspect
Grand Jury indicts murder suspect

After the release, Magistrate Judge Harry Cantrell agreed the release was improper and granted a motion to have Brown re-arrested.

Days later, police did pick up Brown, and now Raspanti says this indictment will move the case forward.

“He’s indicted. The trial is going to go forward and that has no impact on what’s going to happen moving forward,” says Raspanti.

Brown is being held in jail on a $950,000 bond. If convicted, he’ll face life in prison.

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