Domestic abuse suspects receive bonds that some say are too low

Updated: Feb. 1, 2019 at 8:56 PM CST
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NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - “Domestic violence is very prevalent in our community and across the country. Just in Orleans Parish in 2018, there were over 16,000 calls for service on domestic calls,” said Mary Claire Landry.

Landry is the executive director of the New Orleans Family Justice Center. She said when it comes to domestic violence, it takes extreme courage for a victim to come forward.

“These cases are complicated because oftentimes for the victim, this is not the first incident, and they’ve been dealing with this for quite a while,” she said.

Earlier this week, the NOPD and Mayor Latoya Cantrell, along with state and federal authorities, announced the results of a roundup that they say netted dozens of violent offenders.

The list included several people arrested for domestic abuse battery.

Police said Joseph Tate confronted a woman he had previously lived with as she walked to a car.

Court documents show Tate “seized the neck of the victim and began to squeeze the victim’s neck with both hands and lifted the victim into the air.” Police said the woman had trouble breathing. The paperwork states that Tate slammed the victim to the ground and began to wrestle with her for her keys. They said Tate then jumped into the car.

“When you intimidate with your hands around the neck of another person, this is not just strangulation. This is attempting to have the total, complete control over another person whether they are going to live or die and that is the message that these survivors get,” Landry said.

Police arrested Tate and booked him with several charges, including domestic abuse battery involving strangulation and violation of a protective order.

“This is a pattern crime. This is a behavior over a long period of time. It’s not just one incident, but the system is based on evaluating one incident at a time,” Landry said.

Tate’s criminal history includes a conviction for accessory to second degree murder in 2013 and an open case for domestic abuse battery in June of last year. Pre-trial services determined Tate is a risk level 5 out of 5, recommending detention.

A Magistrate Commissioner set Tate’s bond at 60-thousand dollars and he bonded out of jail two days after police arrested him.

“There is no reason this man should be out in the community. He should at least, have the highest bond possible. We consider this an attempted murder situation,” says Landry.

FOX 8 found other defendants arrested for domestic abuse, like Keith McGraff.

He’s accused of showing up at a woman’s door with a pistol in his waistband and threatening to kill her. The two have a child together, and police say the woman was able to run past him and lock her front door.

McGraff also has a violent past that includes 4 felonies and 3 misdemeanor convictions. He’s a risk level 5.

A Magistrate Commissioner set his bond at 35 hundred dollars. McGraff is still in jail because he violated his probation, but Landry believes the bond amount is way too low.

“I don’t believe that we should be jailing people because of poverty. I’m supportive of that, but we have to be able to look at these cases and determine that these persons could be a threat to the community and the victims that they’re terrorizing,” says Landry.

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