(WVTM) Friday, June 28th - 17 year old twins, Jonathon and Jeremi Berry lost their lives at their Attalla Street home in Birmingham. They had been shot.
Their mom, Latasha Berry, was shot while trying to escape in her car from the shooters. She's now paralyzed, no feeling in her legs and checked out of the hospital earlier this week for only a few hours to see the four suspects accused of killing her sons in court. Her aunt, Alicia Thomas spoke for the family.
Victim's Aunt, Alicia Thomas said, "We're just trying to hold on, pray, I was in the courtroom praying, cause I'm still shaking, just to see them, you know, it just does something to me."
The lone woman charged faces burglary leading to the deaths of the twins.
The three male suspects, including Stanley Chatman, face two counts of capital murder and one count of attempted murder. Some were shocked to learn Chatman had just finished serving time on a 2006 manslaughter conviction, getting out of prison in November 2012.
Four months later in March he was charged with murder that happened here on 10th court north at 3pm. 31-year-old Derrick King of Birmingham was killed. Police say Chatman and king were in an argument, Chatman pulled a gun and shot king, killing him. Chatman's bond was set in that case at $75,000, the maximum allowable under Alabama law for a murder charge.
Although, according to Jefferson County District Attorney Brandon Falls, the detective in the case could have asked for a higher bond. We wanted to know why that didn't happen. Because the investigation is ongoing, we were told by a police spokesperson that the detective couldn't talk to us. We also asked to talk to Birmingham Police Chief AC Roper. Through the same spokesman we were told he would not be available. I also submitted questions via email, twice, and did not get any response.
Thomas said, "It was very hard looking in their faces, I want to tell you that, you know. We try to be christians, but LORD help me JESUS. that was a very hard to do."
In our investigation into Chatman's release after his arrest in March on murder, we found this document that two people signed. It's a property bond.
This address near Legion Field is listed on the document. Our investigates team approached them about why they signed the document.
Linda asks: "I'm looking for Jacqueline or Delphine?" Person at door: "Ok, about?" Linda: "Stanley Chatman?" Person: "No, we're not going that. No, let him do him."
The person who answered the door had no comment. But with this latest arrest, that bond set in March has been revoked. And on the current capital murder case, there is no bond.
Emory Anthony is Chatman's attorney. He says his client is not guilty.
Chatman's Attorney, Emory Anthony said, "Let's not judge him by his history, let's judge him by what the state is trying to prove in this offense."
18th District (D), State Senator Rodger Smitherman said, "It saddened me, because those were just some innocent kids."
Smitherman, after learning about Chatman's legal history and being out on bond for murder, believes Alabama's law should be changed, to keep someone like Chatman with his history, behind bars for a new murder charge.
Smitherman said, "I think in those situations, you really, need to give the judge the tools to work with. First off, the judge hears all those facts and know the information you just shared with me, a judge can make a judgement at that point, whether or not this case needs to be addressed in a whole different manner."
Smitherman is already doing research and said he may introduce legislation that gives judges more leeway to address past convictions in bond situations.
Smitherman said, "The main thing you're trying to do with this is protect public safety, protect the people out here."
Chairman of the Judiciary Committee in the Alabama House - Paul DeMarco agrees and told me perhaps it's time to look at the maximum bond for murder and add more teeth to it.
46th District (R), Paul DeMarco said, "When you have issues, it makes people question the ranges, the caps, what was the intent for the $75,000, and if it had been a while, obviously looking at increasing those ranges."
Chatman's attorney disagrees with the need to give judges more tools.
Anthony said, "The law right now, a judge has the authority, even if you're charged with theft of property, if I believe that you are a threat to yourself to others, or will not appear, I can no bond you. I mean you can, that would be a condition."
On Chatman's 2006 manslaughter charge, he received a 15 year sentence, which was cut in half for good time, another Alabama law. If the state had what's called "truth in sentencing", that's where a convicted felon has to serve every single day of the sentence, Chatman would likely still be in prison.
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