Terrell Anthony's ankle monitor should have allowed authorities to track his whereabouts in the hours after witnesses told detectives he'd killed his wife at their Watson home and fled the scene. But something went wrong, and authorities are still trying to figure out what happened.
Anthony, 37, was placed on house arrest and ordered to wear an ankle monitor last fall after he was released on $300,000 bond in a separate East Baton Rouge murder case. He was also on parole following the completion of a prison sentence for cocaine possession.
Differing accounts surfaced Wednesday as officials tried to explain why the systems meant to restrict Anthony's movements failed to account for his whereabouts in the roughly 24 hours between when Jessica Clark was found shot to death on Monday and when her husband eventually turned himself in to Livingston Parish authorities the following night.
A detective with the Livingston Parish Sheriff's Office said Anthony had removed his ankle monitor nine days before the shooting, while the Baton Rouge company in charge of his supervision said there were no indications it had been tampered with, though Anthony had reported a problem with the charger late last week.
The bottom line is that Anthony was not wearing the device when taken into custody.
"I don't think this guy should have been out on the street. That's my personal opinion," Livingston Parish Sheriff Jason Ard told reporters Wednesday afternoon, noting the suspect's long criminal record that includes domestic abuse allegations involving the same victim. "Hopefully a lot of people in our parish can a sleep little better tonight knowing that he's behind bars right now."
Anthony was booked into Livingston Parish Detention Center on first-degree murder after turning himself in late Tuesday. He appeared for a court hearing Wednesday morning where a judge ordered him held without bail, as is mandatory for people facing that charge.
Anthony and Clark had recently gotten married, officials said during the hearing. The two also had a young child together and Anthony had been living with Clark for some time while on house arrest. However, it wasn't clear whether he had been staying with other friends or relatives in recent weeks.
The man suspected of killing a woman in Watson late Monday turned himself in almost 24 hours after the shooting, authorities said Tuesday night.
The state began publicly building its case against Anthony through the brief testimony of Livingston Parish Sheriff's Office detective Brandon Ashford.
Anthony accosted Clark's 12-year-old son, her oldest child, as he got off the school bus at the family's Rue De Fleur home in Watson around 3:30 p.m. Monday, the court heard. He forcefully brought the child inside with Clark's live-in nanny and 2-year-old son, who is also Anthony's biological child.
Anthony took the nanny's and oldest son's cellphones away from them and waited until Clark got home many hours later, Ashford said. It does not appear the nanny or children were harmed during that time.
The nanny was in a bedroom when Clark eventually arrived home around 11:30 p.m. and did not witness the shooting.
But the older child told detectives he saw what happened next. The child described how Anthony met Clark at the front door at gunpoint and took her inside where, the boy said, he shot her several times before fleeing through the back door.
Once Anthony was gone, the nanny said, she picked up the toddler and ran to a neighbor's home to call 911. The older son fled separately through the front door and down the street to a friend's house, where he also called 911.
Clark was dead when authorities arrived soon after.
Ashford said investigators discovered Anthony has a lengthy and violent criminal history, most recently a murder charge for which he was released on $300,000 bond from East Baton Rouge Parish.
In that case, Anthony was ordered to wear an ankle monitor as a condition of his bail. But Livingston detectives said Wednesday morning that they've discovered that Anthony had cut the device off nine days before Clark's death.
Officials said the bail amount and additional monitoring conditions are not unusual for a second-degree murder suspect in East Baton Rouge, though critics of the cash bail system itself have long argued it inappropriately penalizes the poor while failing to protect the public from dangerous suspects who have enough money to buy their release even on high bonds.
A private company called Home Bound Monitoring was tasked with supervising Anthony when he was released, court records show. The company — one of two that Baton Rouge judges often assign to their defendants — provided his ankle monitor, which was meant to ensure Anthony adhered to a curfew and left home only for work.
The defendants assigned to such monitoring are themselves responsible for paying the companies keeping tabs on them; those costs don't fall to the court.
John Campbell, president of Home Bound Monitoring, said in an interview Wednesday that Anthony came into his office last Thursday complaining that the charger for his monitor wasn't working. Campbell, who noted that Anthony was wearing the device at that time, said he asked Anthony to bring the charger to his office so he could examine it. Anthony never returned.
"I had no contact with him after that," Campbell said.
He also stressed that he had received no alerts that Anthony's device had been tampered with, wasn't working properly or had a low battery. In reference to the fatal shooting, Campbell added: "Whatever took place is not due to Home Bound Monitoring not doing their job."
It was unclear why, if Anthony removed the device at some point or it wasn't charging, that went undetected.
Nothing was filed into the court record to indicate any issues with the ankle monitor, and East Baton Rouge District Attorney Hillar Moore III said neither tje judges involved with the case nor his office received notification of any problem. He said if they had, prosecutors would have filed a motion to have Anthony's bond revoked.
"My belief is if there were problems with the monitor, whether by defect or intent, that should have been reported to the court," Moore said. "Nine days is long enough that it seems like someone should have been notified."
Authorities were able to quickly identify the suspected killer of a woman who was found dead from gunshot wounds in her Watson home late Monda…
Clark did not have an active protective order out against Anthony at the time of her death, according to prosecutors, but she was the victim in a domestic violence case in 2016 in which Anthony choked her, threw her on the ground and stomped on her.
Clark told deputies at the time she locked herself in a bathroom, but he kicked the door down and began attacking her. She told them then that she feared he would "go too far one day."
Anthony served six months in jail for that attack. He was arrested again last fall, accused in the 2017 shooting death of David Walker, 68, who was rumored to be a witness to a separate shooting the day prior that had left Anthony’s brother and another man dead.
Anthony also was set to remain on parole through the Department of Corrections through 2021 after being released from prison in September 2018 for cocaine possession charges.
Department spokesman Ken Pastorick said Anthony's parole was not revoked upon his arrest the following month in the 2017 homicide case because the crime occurred before the suspect had been placed on parole.
Anthony has multiple other violent offenses on his record, including an arrest for binding a victim with duct tape and torturing him for over 24 hours, but that case was ultimately dismissed when witnesses failed to cooperate.
Officials said the cocaine possession case was Anthony's first felony conviction as his prior arrests didn't make it to the sentencing stage.
Anthony turned himself in to Livingston Parish authorities Tuesday night in relation to Clark's death and now faces one count of first-degree murder and two counts of robbery for allegedly taking the child and nanny's cellphones.
He's being held in solitary confinement at the Livingston Parish Jail, and through his public defender Wednesday requested to be moved out of isolation. The judge said she does not have control over the jail, and denied bond, sending him back to custody. She also signed protective orders for the two children.
Staff writer Joe Gyan contributed to this report.