Breah Monday is as scared as she is angry.
She’s terrified of her ex-boyfriend, Chaddrick B. Piper. According to the East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff’s Office, Piper threatened to kill her and choked her into unconsciousness inside her home last Tuesday.
She’s angry because, at the time of the attack, Monday thought Piper was still in prison serving a two-year sentence for guilty pleas in December in four other recent attacks against her, including another one in which he choked her until she passed out.
In fact, Piper, 34, was released from Riverbend Detention Center in East Carroll Parish on “good time parole supervision” earlier that same day, according to the state Department of Public Safety and Corrections. He received credit for the roughly eight months he served at the East Baton Rouge Parish Prison awaiting the trial that never came in lieu of plea agreements, and after spending less than two months in state prison, he was released on parole.
On Feb. 3, Piper then somehow traveled the roughly 300 miles from the state prison to Monday’s Baton Rouge-area home, where he showed up unannounced and told her she was “going to die today,” according to a Sheriff’s Office report.
Piper is accused of choking Monday “until she passed out” and forcing her “into a bathroom into a tub of water,” the report says.
Eventually Monday freed herself and escaped. Piper fled with his mother and, after a manhunt, authorities captured him Thursday evening in Iberville Parish, according to the Sheriff’s Office.
He was soon transferred to the East Baton Rouge Parish Prison, where he is being held without bail pending a Tuesday morning court hearing.
In a recent interview, Monday expressed frustration and confusion about the way her case was handled.
Monday said she wishes someone would have told her about Piper’s release, because then she could have made the proper arrangements to prevent another attack.
“Why didn’t they try to get in touch with me about it?” she asked. “It’s not so hard.”
The East Baton Rouge Parish District Attorney’s Office confirmed that Monday registered with the proper notification services so she could be told when Piper was released from prison.
However, Monday later was forced to change her phone number. She said Piper wouldn’t stop calling her from jail — a clear violation of her protective order against him.
“If victims do not register their new phone numbers, they may not be notified,” said Melanie Fields, an assistant district attorney and the parish’s lead domestic violence prosecutor.
But Monday was unhappy even before the most recent attack.
Monday, who shares a son with Piper, said she was preparing for trial in January when she received a call from the District Attorney’s Office.
There would be no trial, she found out.
Weeks earlier, Piper received a two-year prison sentence at a Dec. 9 court hearing. He pleaded guilty to one charge of domestic battery with strangulation, three charges of simple battery, one charge of aggravated assault and one charge of violation of a protective order in four attacks on Monday between October 2013 and April 2014. He received the two-year sentence for the domestic abuse battery with strangulation charge, for which there exists a maximum sentence of three years, while receiving six-month sentences on all the other charges that ran concurrent with each other and the two-year sentence, meaning they would not affect Piper’s time served.
When Monday found out, she was upset. She had hoped for more time.
Nevertheless, she accepted the sentence and “was sleeping OK at night thinking he had two years,” Monday said, even though she knew he was angry with her for going to authorities, and that he would probably look for her whenever he was released.
Now, Monday, 26, said she must uproot her life to protect herself and their 6-year-old son.
“Love doesn’t always conquer all,” she said.
Monday declined to comment about specifics of the most recent attack because of the ongoing criminal investigation.
Current and former prosecutors and domestic violence experts said patterns of escalating violence serve as clear indicators of the high level of danger posed by an abuser.
“Domestic violence murders are the kinds of murders most easy to prevent, and often the victim has come and begged for help multiple times before they’re killed,” said Tania Tetlow, a former federal prosecutor and Tulane University Law School professor who specializes in teaching domestic violence courses. “And this case is a perfect example of why the system has to do better in preventing those murders, because it’s a miracle she’s still alive.”
Beth Meeks, executive director of the Louisiana Coalition Against Domestic Violence, said cases like Monday’s are “very common, unfortunately.”
“The fact of the matter is these women try to do something, and their efforts are so useless and exhausting that they frequently stop,” Meeks said.
Meeks said complications with handling domestic violence cases sometimes leads battered women to try cooperating with their abuser rather than escape an abusive home.
“These are women who tried to get help in the system somehow, and our interventions were not appropriate to keep them safe,” Meeks said. “It’s not that they didn’t ask. It’s that the interventions we gave them were not the best that we have to offer. And I think that’s a shock to people.”
In Monday’s case, she repeatedly reported to the Sheriff’s Office whenever Piper — who already had an abusive history with at least two other women — would attack her.
But each time after being arrested and booked into Parish Prison, Piper would post bail, find Monday, and attack her again, raising questions about how he was able to post bail after each subsequent offense.
After the fourth arrest, when Piper was accused of attempting to slice off a portion of Monday’s back that is tattooed with his name on it, prosecutors asked the court to raise Piper’s bail higher than the $20,000 at which it was set.
The court agreed, and Piper’s bail was raised to $200,000. He remained jailed in lieu of that bail until he was sentenced to prison in December by state District Judge Bonnie Jackson.
District Attorney Hillar Moore III said special bail-setting hearings are now mandated for some people arrested on domestic violence accusations after the passage in 2014 of “Gwen’s Law”, which, had it been in existence when Piper was repeatedly being arrested, may have helped make the court more aware of the threat posed by releasing him.
Regardless, Moore said the case exemplifies why the court needs to install an evidence-based risk-assessment tool that could be used to more precisely measure an arrestee’s risk in determining bail amounts.
“In this case, the risk would’ve been clearly identified,” Moore said.
Jackson, the judge who sentenced Piper in December, said it’s important to keep in mind that domestic abuse battery is, in many cases, a misdemeanor crime, and most misdemeanors carry a maximum sentence upon conviction of six months in prison.
“So you have to take that into consideration,” Jackson said, “because the person has a right to a reasonable bond.”
Jackson said, in general, once the court sees a pattern in arrests such as in Piper’s case, it will consider raising bail appropriately, which is what occurred in Piper’s case after his fourth arrest in about six months on allegations of domestic abuse.
In addition, Jackson said, the Gwen’s Law hearings, which must occur within a few days of an arrest, usually don’t provide judges with any more bail-setting information than they would have otherwise obtained on their own.
Normally judges have access to probable cause reports drafted by the arresting officer and the criminal history of the arrestee. Given a few extra days to prepare for a hearing, prosecutors often don’t have the time to find additional information that could be helpful, either because no such information exists or because police haven’t finished drafting and approving reports about the incident leading to the arrest, Jackson said.
State District Judge Don Johnson, who recently began presiding over civil cases after formerly hearing criminal cases, is one of several proponents of a specialized domestic violence court in East Baton Rouge Parish that could lead to improvements in the handling of cases such as Piper’s.
Johnson said the creation of such a court might help streamline how the court as a whole deals with domestic violence cases, particularly since the adjudication of protective orders is currently done in civil court, while criminal charges play out on the separate criminal side, creating an inconvenient separation of related matters.
“A systematic type of approach for this type of conduct would be better,” Johnson said.
Meanwhile, Monday is still dealing with the effects of Piper’s recent release and recapture. While tending to her bruises, cuts and general soreness, she’s preparing for a new life.
“Now I have to move. I have to change schools for my son,” Monday said. “It’s not a new identity, but it’s starting over.”
Follow Ben Wallace on Twitter @_BenWallace.