An Orleans Parish judge on Monday lowered the bail from $1.25 million to $250,000 for a mother of four who was indicted in February on a pair of manslaughter counts in connection with a double killing that her boyfriend is accused of committing outside their New Orleans East apartment.
District Attorney Leon Cannizzaro’s office secured the manslaughter indictment against Gilda Woodridge, 27, after Magistrate Judge Harry Cantrell found no probable cause for her arrest on two counts of being a principal to first-degree murder.
Woodridge, a behavioral interventionist at Sci Academy in New Orleans East, also faces a count of obstruction of justice.
Her boyfriend, Ahmad Rainey, 33, meanwhile, is charged with two counts of second-degree murder plus obstruction.
Both have pleaded not guilty.
They are accused in the Dec. 28 killings of Vernon Lewis and Daniel Millon at the Hidden Lake Apartments.
According to witnesses, Woodridge went upstairs to a female neighbor’s apartment to ask Lewis and Millon to move their motorcycles from in front of her and Rainey’s unit, a police report states.
The two men came downstairs and appeared to be complying, witnesses said, when Rainey allegedly picked a fight and emerged with a rifle from Apartment B104. The report says he then fired 10 shots — six into Lewis, four into Millon.
Defense attorney Robert Toale argued that Woodridge did nothing to spark the gunfire. A police officer had testified in January only that she failed to stop Rainey, the father of her children, from shooting.
“The only possible explanation (for the charges against Woodridge) that makes any sense is that the state is seeking to leverage Ms. Woodridge against Mr. Rainey,” Toale wrote in seeking to reduce Woodridge’s $1.25 million bail. He cited a lack of evidence and her ties to the community as reasons for the reduction.
Woodridge had bought a home in Harvey for $26,000 on the day of the killings, documents show. She was seeking to leave the Martin Drive apartment, which had recently been burglarized, Toale wrote.
“Why would Ms. Woodridge, flush with the excitement of buying her first home, take any action that would jeopardize it? It defies belief. It makes no sense,” he wrote.
One witness told police that, before grabbing his rifle and firing, Rainey asked Daniel, “You playing with my girl or something?”
The police report claims that on the way to being booked, Woodridge said, “We were wrong,” and, “They were always parking those bikes by my door.” Before surrendering to authorities three days after the shooting, Rainey called a witness, claiming he fired in self-defense.
Prosecutors have not specified the nature of the obstruction charges, though a police search of the couple’s home failed to turn up the weapon.
Following a hearing last week, Criminal District Court Judge Byron C. Williams lowered Woodridge’s bail by $1 million. He left Rainey’s bail at more than $2 million.
The two motorcycles had been reported stolen in October, according to police.
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