Case causing

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, February 11, 2004


local concernThere is much concern among the St. John Parish business community regarding the release from custody of Alton Placide. While he is presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law, the means of his release gives cause for concern.

Dozens of businesses, including home-grown groceries, as well as banks, fell victim to an 18-month spree of break-ins. All the while, the person who allegedly masterminded the assault on the entire St. John business community, East Bank as well as West Bank, eluded capture by being assisted within the community, many of whom feared retribution.

According to reports, Placide was released due to a lack of proper procedure being followed, as with any arrestee.

He was due to be appointed an attorney within 72 hours. He apparently was appointed such an attorney in a timely fashion, yet he was not made aware he had an attorney. Meanwhile, questioning of the suspect continued, without legal representation.

Placide was also due to have the district attorney file a bill of information before the court in a timely basis to seek an indictment from the Grand Jury. Apparently, the authorities missed the boat on that one.

As with any suspect in a criminal matter, he is due a fair and speedy trial. Somehow, the “speedy” part was lost in the translation.

Finally, despite community fears of further incidents while awaiting trial, and the pleas of the special prosecutor brought in, warning Placide was a risk to flee the area, he was released back onto our community.

We at L’Observateur urge strict attention to the rules of law, by which we govern our land and its people, by those people we have entrusted to do so.

As we state above, Alton Placide is presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law. To be equally fair to those victims of the burglaries laid at Placide’s feet, we also urge a fair, honest and speedy trial.

Let’s do this, but let’s do this the right way.