An attorney for flea market murder suspect Earl Joseph III wants a judge to reduce the teenager’s bail so he can await his trial at home, away from adult felons in the Lafayette Parish Correctional Center where he was attacked recently.
Joseph’s attorney, Jane Hogan, said in a court document filed Friday that her client’s incarceration with adults at the Correctional Center is not where a 16-year-old belongs.
“We are, as Earl’s attorneys, extremely concerned about his wellbeing,” Hogan said Tuesday.
The Lafayette Parish Sheriff’s Office, which runs the Correctional Center, on Tuesday provided a few details about the attack. Capt. John Babin confirmed in an email that Joseph was assaulted, and that he required treatment by the jail’s medical staff and at a hospital before being returned to his cell.
But Babin denied that Joseph was being incarcerated with adults at the downtown jail. And, Babin said, Joseph has been a problem to jailers and other inmates during his stay.
“He has been moved several times,” Babin wrote. “Mostly because he had a propensity to be aggressive toward other inmates and initiated many of the altercations.”
Neither Hogan nor Babin said when the attack happened or provided details on what led to the fight.
“He has been housed with adult inmates and kind of moved around” the jail, Hogan said. “We’re completely concerned with his placement, and we’re planning to litigate it.”
Joseph turned 15 three days before he allegedly shot Jockey Lot flea market employee Michael Patin on Feb. 2, 2014. Police at the time said Patin confronted Joseph about an attempted vehicle theft and that Joseph shot Patin, an Arnaudville resident. Three days after the shooting, a Lafayette Parish grand jury charged Joseph as an adult with one count of first-degree murder.
Because of his age, Joseph will not face the death penalty. He is, however, facing a life sentence.
In the case’s latest motion, Hogan asks Judge Patrick Michot to reduce Joseph’s $1 million bail to an amount his family can afford.
Hogan also claims “there is a lack of evidence against Earl Joseph” and said two witnesses misidentified Joseph in a photo lineup. She said those witnesses reportedly made inconsistent statements to police.
If granted a lower bail amount and released, Hogan said, Joseph’s mother is ready to supervise him and make sure he shows up for court appearances, including his trial scheduled for July 11, 2016.
Many of the points that Hogan stresses to Michot in court papers were made by Joseph’s former attorney, Michael J. Hall, of New Orleans. Hall was hired by Joseph’s family early on in the case but has since withdrawn.
In a June 2014 motion, Hall said that while Joseph was not incarcerated with adults at the Correctional Center, he was housed with bigger, stronger and more aggressive teens. Joseph was too young and frail to defend himself from the other teens, Hall wrote.
Like Hogan did in her recent motion, Hall 17 months ago asked Michot to reduce Joseph’s $1 million bail. Michot denied the request.
During the 20 months and counting that Joseph has been in jail he’s gained weight, lots of it. Hogan said that a lack of activity and outside exercise has led to him putting on 100 pounds.
Lafayette’s jail for adults “clearly is not a proper place for this child who has not yet been convicted of any offense,” Hogan wrote. “… Earl is only 16 years old and is still legally presumed innocent.”