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Handcuffs photographed Tuesday, December 26, 2017.

Almost two years after allegedly shooting his ex-girlfriend to death on College Drive and fleeing to Texas where he was later arrested, Billy Pettice received a bond reduction in February 2020.

Several months later, he was released on $175,000 bond — but 19th Judicial District Court Judge Bonnie Jackson required him to wear a GPS ankle monitor. 

In July 2021, Judge Eboni Johnson-Rose relieved Pettice of his ankle monitor after finding he was unable to afford the monitoring fees. 

On Saturday, Pettice was arrested again, this time accused of attacking a different woman, the mother of his two young children, on Nov. 11. Police said Pettice strangled the woman while holding a gun to her head and threatening to kill her.

Their children, ages 4 and 7, witnessed the assault, according to an arrest report.

Following a court hearing Tuesday morning, Pettice was ordered held without bond on the new counts: domestic abuse battery, simple battery and aggravated assault with a firearm. 

East Baton Rouge District Attorney Hillar Moore III said his office objected to the initial bond reduction and the subsequent decision to stop tracking Pettice.

"Given his history and the information that was available to us, we believe the initial bond set for this defendant was very reasonable and should have been maintained," Moore said Monday, after Pettice had been rearrested over the weekend. "Judges are in a tough position, but we need to start looking at these repeat violent offenders released on multiple bonds." 

Moore said prosecutors, public defenders and judges have worked together to reduce the Baton Rouge jail population, starting before the pandemic. Those efforts ramped up during COVID because of public health concerns and delays in the court system.

But Moore said the courts need to draw a line somewhere: "Those who continue to be arrested with repeat offenses, particularly violent and gun-related crimes, pose a reasonably credible threat if released without appropriate conditions."

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Recent attempts to reach judges Jackson and Johnson-Rose were not successful. 

Pettice won the bond reduction after spending nearly two years behind bars while his case proceeded, a process that slowed to a trickle during the pandemic. His bail was dropped from $250,000 to $175,000 on the second-degree murder charge. 

Before the court agreed to scrap his ankle monitor in July, the owner of the tracking company emailed Johnson-Rose. 

"He cannot afford the fees for his monitoring, but with his frequent changes in address, I do not believe he would do well" with a less reliable cell phone tracking alternative, Amber Kepper wrote in the email, which was filed into the court record.

Pettice, 41, had faced charges in both Louisiana and Texas — including theft and burglary, but nothing that appears domestic violence-related — before his June 2018 arrest in the College Drive homicide.

DeDawn Bush, 20, was walking along College Drive when she was ambushed and killed in June 2018. Baton Rouge police identified Pettice as a suspect after "many eye witnesses" provided a description of the shooter, according to his arrest report.

Detectives learned that Pettice had been in a relationship with Bush, then traveled to Alaska for some time. He returned to Baton Rouge and tried to work things out with the victim, who was seeing another man, police said.

Pettice had been "texting and calling her nonstop" for several days before the murder, according to police. He then stole a gun from his relative and ambushed her near the apartment complex where she had been staying, detectives alleged.

Pettice fled to Texas after the shooting. He was arrested the following day after falling from a causeway bridge in Galveston. Local authorities said Pettice claimed he slipped off the bridge while taking a selfie, but investigators suspected he was attempting suicide. He was injured but survived the fall, and a fisherman found him treading water. 

In the most recent case, police said Pettice was harassing the victim because she broke up with him and started dating someone new.

His attorney, Victor Woods, did not immediately respond to requests for comment.


Email Lea Skene at lskene@theadvocate.com.