Marksville — One of two Marksville deputy marshals accused of murder in the shooting death of a 6-year-old boy was released on bail Tuesday after a district judge ruled a state law that had prevented the man’s father from posting bail should not be applied.
Norris Greenhouse Jr., 23, walked out of the Avoyelles Parish Jail around 5:20 p.m., hours after state District Judge William Bennett ruled that his father, Norris Greenhouse Sr., should be permitted to post a $1 million property bond despite a Louisiana law that prohibits lawyers from posting bail for any defendant. The elder Greenhouse is an Avoyelles Parish assistant district attorney.
Avoyelles Parish Sheriff Doug Anderson had refused earlier this month to release the younger Greenhouse, citing the statute.
Bennett said applying the law to a father would be “absurd and unreasonable,” adding that the law is meant to prevent lawyers from posting bail for their clients.
“He’s simply a father who desires that his son be released pending trial,” Bennett said.
The judge also on Tuesday amended a Nov. 9 gag order, now allowing the release of arrest documents as well as confirmation of places of employment for the two deputy marshals arrested in the boy’s death. The gag order still prohibits those associated with the case — including attorneys, witnesses and potential witnesses — from discussing evidence.
The order also explicitly bars the release of documents or information related to any prior investigations or complaints against Greenhouse and Lt. Derrick Stafford, the other deputy marshal accused in the Nov. 3 shooting death of 6 year-old Jeremy Mardis and the wounding of his father, 25-year-old Christopher Few.
Both men were arrested Nov. 6, booked on counts of second-degree murder and attempted second-degree murder. The sheriff said he knew of no effort to free Stafford, who is also being held in lieu of $1 million bail.
While free on bail, Greenhouse will be required to remain at home and wear a monitoring device. Bennett also ordered Greenhouse to surrender any firearms as well as any law enforcement badges or certifications.
Both the sheriff and the judge said the $1 million bail posted by the Greenhouses, to their knowledge, is the largest ever posted in Avoyelles Parish.
Attorneys for the Louisiana Attorney General’s office and Sheriff’s Association noted during the hearing that there is no case law that carves out an exception to the prohibition on attorneys posting bail.
Tuesday’s hearing was set after the elder Greenhouse, who’s worked as a prosecutor with the Avoyelles Parish District Attorney’s Office for the past 20 years, and his wife, Cheryl, attempted to post a property bond secured by land worth $1 million. But because the father owned most of the land, the sheriff said it could not be used for bail and refused on Nov. 12 to release the younger Greenhouse.
According to Article 320 of Louisiana’s Criminal Code, “a person shall not be released on bail for which an attorney at law, a judge, or ministerial officer of a court becomes a surety or provides money or property for bail.”
In making his ruling, Bennett noted that the statute remained largely untested in the courts.
No attorneys raised objections to Bennett’s order after he read it in court, and there was no indication Tuesday that either the Attorney General’s Office or the Sheriff’s Association would appeal the ruling.
The two officers, moonlighting at the time of the shooting as local deputy marshals, had chased Few’s SUV on the night of Nov. 3. Few was in the driver’s seat, while his young son sat next to him, wearing a seat belt. Both were shot and the young boy died. Officials have said at least 18 bullets were fired at the SUV.
The Associated Press reported an attorney said that body camera footage from another officer at the scene showed Christopher Few with his hands up before officers fired on his stopped vehicle.
The Avoyelles Parish DA’s Office has recused itself in the proceedings, which is why the state Attorney General’s Office is prosecuting the case.
When issuing his ruling, Bennett indicated the public has already made up its mind in the case.
“Although the court of public opinion has already tried and convicted these defendants, this court has not,” Bennett said.