KIRAN: Destructive Decisions? - WAFB 9 News Baton Rouge, Louisiana News, Weather, Sports

KIRAN: Destructive Decisions?

Judge Trudy White (Source: WAFB) Judge Trudy White (Source: WAFB)
BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) -

It's coming up on eight years since a mother and daughter were shot in Beauregard Town, sending shock waves through the community.

"This looks like one of those crimes that we talk about. There's no connection, just no connection at all," said former Baton Rouge police chief, Jeff LeDuff in 2010.

It was September 24, 2010. Alexandra Engler, 42, was shot numerous times and killed. Her then 9-year-old daughter watched it all happen and even took six bullets in the back as she ran away. She was the one who called police and miraculously survived. Alexandra's mother and Ariana's grandmother, Bonnie Hunt, reached out to WAFB from New Hampshire.

"My life changed a lot and what you learn is you pick up and you go on and you make life count in many other ways and you do the best you can," said Hunt.

Aramis Jackson was arrested for the murder. Police said he went to steal a TV and ended up killing Alexandra, while forever changing Ariana's life. A search of Jackson's past shows he was arrested in August of 2008 for having a gun on LSU's campus. In May of 2009, he went before Judge Trudy White and the charge was dropped.

Then in October of 2008, he had a charge of remaining after being forbidding, but was never officially charged. In April of 2010, he was arrested for gun and drug charges. He stayed in jail until July and was then released early.

A transcript of that court proceeding between Judge White and Jackson reads

Judge White: The court is going to require that you do three random acts of kindness which you don't have to come back to the court to report on. That's between you and your maker. Do you know what a random act of kindness is?

Jackson: I don't know ma'am.

Judge White then explained a random act of kindness to Jackson.

Judge White: Let's say that an elderly lady in your neighborhood needs her grass cut. You can knock on the door and say, "Look, do you need your grass cut?" You cut the grass, and when she attempts to give you a couple of dollars, you say, 'No thank you.' That's what I'm talking about a random act of kindness.

Jackson: Yes ma'am.

It all ended when Judge White said, "All right, charges have been dismissed. You're released Mr. Jackson, and free to go."

Two months later, Jackson broke into Engler's home, killing her.

"I remembered vividly her recommendation to my daughter's murderer to do random acts of kindness and then I went on and I read the article, the investigative article that you put together and I was appalled," said Hunt.


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She's referring to WAFB's previous report on Zachary firefighter and police officer, Chris Lawton. The man arrested for his murder, Albert Franklin, had a past.

In November of 2017, Zachary officers arrested Franklin on a slew of charges. His bond was set at $88,000. The next day, Judge White went in behind her commissioner, who had set the bond, and reduced it by $79,000 to just $9,000. There was no bond reduction hearing and the district attorney's office was not aware of the reduction. Franklin was back out on the streets.

Zachary Police Chief David McDavid was outraged as he spoke to WAFB after the bond reduction. "I'm tired of seeing the same individuals being re-arrested over and over by our officers here who put their lives in danger everyday and these people just walk out of jail like it's 'Let's Make a Deal,'" said McDavid in November of 2017.

Then in March of 2018, one of the chief's officers, Chris Lawton, was killed, allegedly at the hands of Franklin.

RELATED STORIES: Zachary officer killed in hit and run in Walmart parking lot

"The judge has blood on her hands," said McDavid in March. "Judge Trudy White failed this young man."

"His comment that she really had blood on her hands was really profound. As I read your article, I just got angry all over again," said Hunt.

She says it reopened her wounds and she wants to give Judge White some of her own advice. "I thought it would be an act of kindness reciprocating and repeating her words to not have her sitting behind the bench," said Hunt. "She gave him just a slap on the wrist and that lesson is not lost and it wasn't lost apparently on this person in Zachary."

She too puts Lawton's murder on Judge White. "A police man was murdered as the result. It was a slap on the wrist. Bail was reduced," said Hunt.

Hunt says this is proof Judge White has a pattern of slaps on the wrist. "I don't want this to happen to someone else," said Hunt.

She's asking for someone to investigate. Legally, the only entity that can investigate judges is the Judicial Commission and their investigations, if any, are done behind closed doors. It becomes public only if they take their findings before the Supreme Court.

"If I was sitting in Louisiana, I would be asking my voting friends, 'Why are you re-electing this judge?'" said Hunt.

WAFB's Kiran Chawla: If you can say anything to Judge White, what do you say?

Hunt: Shame on you.

Kiran: Why?

Hunt: I disagree with your rulings and the actions as they've been reported that you took.

Copyright 2018 WAFB. All rights reserved.

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