MARKSVILLE — In ordering Avoyelles Parish Sheriff Doug Anderson to accept a property bond from Norris Greenhouse Jr.’s parents, 12th Judicial District Judge William Bennett said the marshal facing a murder charge is entitled to due process — no matter what the court of public opinion thinks.
Bennett acknowledged that many people already have convicted Greenhouse Jr. and Derrick Stafford, who both face second-degree murder and attempted second-degree murder charges in the death of 6-year-old Jeremy Mardis and the wounding of his father, Chris Few.
“This court has not,” he said when announcing his decision Tuesday on a motion filed by Greenhouse Jr.’s parents. “This is a court of justice, and justice will be served.”
Bennett also issued an amended gag order in the case.
Bonds for both men were set at $1 million, the largest bonds that Bennett said ever have been set in the parish. While Stafford remains in jail with a public defender, Greenhouse’s family arranged for several properties to be offered to fulfill the bond obligation. All conditions were met, but Anderson then cited Louisiana Code of Criminal Procedure 320 in halting Greenhouse Jr.’s release.
The law forbids attorneys or officers of a court from providing money or property for a bond.
Though Bennett ruled that Anderson’s interpretation of the law presented an “absurd and unreasonable” restriction to Greenhouse Jr.’s right to due process, he also credited Anderson for doing the right thing as the law requires.
The problem exists with the law itself, he said, saying that he’s seen cases of attorneys bonding their children out of jail in previous cases within Avoyelles Parish. As with this case, the attorneys were acting only as parents and not as legal counsel, he said.
“We are all aware that one of the most fundamental principles of our law is that a person accused of a crime is innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt,” states Bennett’s ruling. “Regardless of public opinion and/or rumors about evidence and/or particular facts of any case, every person accused of committing a crime is entitled to his day in court and is entitled to a fair trial.
“Persons accused of crimes are also entitled to bail which … is issued in order to assure the appearance of the defendant before the proper court whenever required.”
1:20 p.m.: Greenhouse family leaving the courthouse
1:18 p.m.: Order from the judge
1 p.m. Breaking: Sheriff ordered to accept bond for Norris Greenhouse Jr. Will be updated.