Morgan Co. DA criticizes Judge over bond ruling
PHIL CAMPBELL, Ala. (WAFF) - A Phil Campbell man charged with sexual abuse of child was released from the Morgan County Jail without bond in May.
He later confessed to rape and incest charges in Franklin county in August.
Now the judge who released him is facing tough criticism from the Morgan County District Attorney.
In January, Raymond McKinney was arrested and charged with sexual abuse of a child under 12 in Morgan County.
Then in May, McKinney was released from jail after Judge Howell granted a reduced bond to zero dollars and on his own recognizance, meaning no supervision.
Three months later in August, McKinney was arrested in Franklin County for rape and incest, which investigators say he confessed to.
The Morgan County District Attorney, Scott Anderson said that should have never happened.
”I think a lot about my decisions and they do impact lives and it is something that I do turn over to the lord. It may sound like cliché answer but it is so true,” Judge Jennifer Howell.
The DA said without notice and without a hearing, Judge Howell released McKinney from jail on a zero dollar bond and on his own recognizance meaning under no supervision.
Three months after being released from the Morgan County Jail, McKinney is then arrested on August 4th in Franklin County on rape and incest charges of a child in his own Phil Campbell home.
”I’m not allowed to comment on the facts of the case and quite frankly, I don’t know the facts of this case and that’s by design. I learn the facts of the case probably when the case comes before me for bond revocation. In this particular case, I’ve revoked his bond on the state’s motion which is part of the process,” added Judge Howell.
Judge Howell said by law, she was required to hear McKinney’s bond reduction request.
”We’re not fortune tellers. It’s easy to armchair quarterback a football game or a decision made by a court when you don’t know what the future holds. Ultimately, my job is to look at each case on a case-by-case basis with what’s in front of me,” explained Judge Howell.
District Attorney, Scott Anderson issued this statement:
”I understand the law required her to set a low bond because the defendant wasn’t seen within 72 hours. That’s not the issue. She has stated that the law required her to release the defendant on his own recognizance. That is not a correct statement of the law. There is no law requiring her to do that. That was her decision and hers alone. I cannot imagine a situation where a man charged with this crime would be allowed by the judge to simply walk out of the jail without a bond and at least some very strict conditions to that bond. Judge Howell says she cannot see in the future, I agree, but she can use and is expected to use common sense and exercise judicial discretion in a way that offers some protection to victims and citizens. I am an advocate for the people, but it’s impossible for me to serve as that advocate when the court changes long-standing practices without telling me. Regardless of how badly I know she erred in this case, I’m ready to move on in order to concentrate on getting a conviction in order to give both victims the justice they deserve. We cannot lose sight that our victims and their well-being should be the center of our focus and our efforts.”
Judge Howell added, “Just like any lawyer, he’s got a job to do. He’s an advocate for his client, the members of our community. My job is not to be an advocate and I can’t be an advocate.”
McKinney is still sitting in the Franklin county jail on a $90,000 bond.
If he posts bond, he will then be sent to Morgan county where he will stay in jail until his case goes to trial.
WAFF will continue to follow the case.
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