One of the suspects in the Christmas Eve shootings in Lutcher that killed two and injured another is now free from jail after a judge set bail this week at a fraction of a co-defendant's, a decision that has outraged the family of one of the victims.

Jermaine Lee Lewis Jr., 21, of Lutcher, who was caught in February by a federal fugitive task force, posted bond this week after a judge set his bail at $50,000. Lewis had previously been held without bond, but his attorney requested a hearing to reexamine the case, including his bail.

And while state District Judge Thomas Kliebert Jr. found probable cause for the second-degree murder case to move forward, he also decided to set Lewis' bond at $50,000. 

"He's a flight risk and we can't understand how he'd get a bond (like that)," said Lashana Jones, the mother of Thaddeus Watis, who was killed in the shooting. "It's like a slap in the face."

Tyquan Twendell Williams, 24, of Lutcher, was arrested in January soon after the shooting. He's also accused of second-degree murder, and remains in jail in lieu of $375,000 bail, more than seven times Lewis' bail. 

Kliebert did not return a call requesting comment on the bail. 

"That is not OK," Jones said. Her son, Watis, of Convent, was a college football player at Arkansas Baptist College in Little Rock. He had been home on holiday break when he was fatally shot. 

This mom just called me and she wants to comment. Thanks.

Dedrick Paul Green Jr., 23, of Convent, was also killed in the shooting; Jerrell Moody, 25, of Vacherie, was wounded. 

Green’s mother, Denessa Cola Lewis, said she felt blindsided by the judge's decision.

“I still have my other family member that’s out there. Who’s to say (he) won’t go after them?” Lewis said. She said she is particularly worried about her 3-year-old granddaughter, Green’s daughter.

A spokesman for the state Attorney General's Office, which is prosecuting the case on behalf of the local district attorney, declined to comment on the case or the bond amount. They have not filed a motion to increase Lewis' bail, but on Wednesday they did file an emergency protective order prohibiting Lewis from contacting any victim or their families. The judge granted that protective order as a condition of the bail. 

The attorney for Lewis, David Bourland, said the protective order will not be an issue because his client is not guilty and has nothing to do with this case. 

"He should never have been arrested," Bourland said Thursday. "He's not involved."

Bourland said that before he had been hired to represent Lewis, the public defender had waived Lewis' bail hearing, so he had been held without bail. The hearing on Tuesday was the first hearing to set Lewis' bail. 

Lewis is accused in the shootings at a block party after the annual Christmas Eve bonfires on the Mississippi River levee. Deputies responded to gunfire about 11:30 p.m. on Dec. 24 in Lutcher, where they found a chaotic scene including echoes of nearby gunfire and bodies on the ground. 

St. James Sheriff Willy Martin has said it appeared the two men who were killed, Watis and Green, also were firing guns, as weapons were found next to their bodies. The sheriff has said he believes Moody was an innocent bystander who was hit by the gunfire while trying to flee like hundreds of others.


Follow Grace Toohey on Twitter, @grace_2e.