Sunday, April 21, 2024

Mother, Son Attacked by Released Prisoner; Parole Board Member Quits

HomeU.S.Mother, Son Attacked by Released Prisoner; Parole Board Member Quits

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – A scene of unspeakable horror unfolded just one day after a convicted wife-beater was handed an early release from prison by a parole board that seemingly ignored overwhelming evidence he remained a clear and present danger to his ex-partner and her children.

The devastating consequences have left the people of Illinois sickened and a grieving Chicago family torn apart in the most unimaginable way. Now, the state official who paved the way for the tragedy is feeling the full fury of a public howling for her head on a pike.

An Incomprehensible Crime

It was March 13th when authorities say Crosetti Brand, 37, a serial domestic abuser with a rap sheet of vicious attacks spanning over 15 years, followed through on his long pattern of threats and menacing behavior toward his ex-girlfriend Laterria Smith.

Brazenly defying a restraining order, the hulking 6’3″ Brand showed up at Smith’s Chicago apartment armed with a hunting knife. He allegedly forced his way inside, then launched an unthinkable assault – viciously stabbing Smith, who is 6 months pregnant, in a fit of rage.

But in a moment that will be seared into the memories of Chicago for generations, Brand’s savagery struck a new low. As Smith’s 11-year-old son Jayden Perkins courageously tried to protect his mother from the onslaught, the monster plunged his blade deep into the young boy’s chest again and again until he fell lifeless.

Smith, 33, currently clings to life in a hospital bed, her body broken but her baby miraculously surviving the butchery. Her 6-year-old son witnessed the entire massacre before Brand fled into the night like a rat abandoning a sinking ship.

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“This is the stufffromparole board nightmares,” said a visibly shaken Deputy Police Commissioner Michael Ryce at the scene. “Just an incomprehensible, evil act of violence perpetrated by a man who never should have been walking the streets in the first place.”

A Catastrophic Lapse in Judgment

In the days since the sickening crimes, a bitter truth has come to light – credible warnings that Brand posed a lethal risk to Smith were raising blazing red flags to authorities in the weeks and months leading up to his scheduled parole hearing. But the smoke was seemingly waved away by those tasked with keeping communities safe from such predators.

Chief among those now being pilloried by a disgusted public is LeAnn Miller, 63, a member of the Illinois Prisoner Review Board who compiled the critical report that advised Brand’s early termination from an originally 16-year sentence for a prior domestic assault conviction from 2015.

Miller’s assessment discounted and outright ignored a litany of violations and threatening behaviors Brand displayed toward his ex in recent months, including an episode where he showed up at Smith’s apartment banging on the door and desperately trying to gain entry before fleeing.

Most damningly, Miller’s report claimed there was “no evidence” to substantiate any of Smith’s claims that she was being stalked and terrorized – allegations the victim herself was never called to testify on during Brand’s hearing.

Pressure on Miller mounted to a boiling point in the days following the butchery, with everyone from trauma counselors to lawmakers to family members of domestic violence victims blasting the total lack of accountability demonstrated by Miller and her cohorts Ken Tupy and Krystal Tison, who also voted to release Brand.

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On Monday, Miller finally capitulated to the rising tide of scorn, resigning her position effective immediately.

“This coward’s move to resign changes absolutely nothing for my family,” said Smith’s brother, Michael Grigsby. “That lady had one job – to keep violent monsters off the street and to protect victims like my sister who live in fear of these scumbags. Because she failed so miserably, my nephew is dead and my sister may never see another sunrise. She’s got his blood on her hands.”

A Legacy of Terrorizing Women

Even a cursory look into Brand’s rap sheet dating back over 15 years reveals a prolific history of brutalizing and degrading any woman unlucky enough to be drawn into his orbit:

In 2009, he was charged for choking an ex-girlfriend so violently that he left clearly visible handprint bruises around her neck. Two years later, he cracked another girlfriend’s ribs from repetitive punches to her chest during a domestic dispute.

After his release from the 2015 conviction for domestic battery of yet another victim, Brand was re-arrested twice in 2017 on charges he violated a restraining order and made criminal threats toward his ex-partner in that case.

“The writing could not have been on the wall any brighter or redder that this man was a hardened, violent individual with zero ability to be rehabilitated,” said Cynthia Vazquez of the Illinois Coalition Against Domestic Violence. “Yet for some inexplicable reason, he was able to walk right out of prison despite a mountain of proof showing he’d reoffend. This tragedy was beyond preventable.”

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Sweeping Reforms Ordered

In the aftermath of the preventable massacre, Governor J.B. Pritzker has ordered the 15-member Illinois Prisoner Review Board to overhaul how domesticviolence cases are evaluated from top to bottom. This includes mandating extensive training from abuse survivor advocates and domestic violence experts on properly vetting such cases going forward.

The Illinois Department of Corrections has also been instructed to re-examine procedures for how evidence is collected, maintained, and shared with the parole board when those with histories of physical and sexual abuse toward partners are being considered for early release.

Some state lawmakers are pushing to pass new legislation further empowering parole boards to thoroughly investigate and potentially block the release of inmates like Brand who demonstrate a repeated pattern of terrorizing intimate partners and spouse.

“This case represents a cataclysmic system failure at every single level,” said State Senator Melissa Combs. “We are saying never again – not one more life has to be destroyed before we get these laws and protocols institutionally overhauled to protect the vulnerable.”

As the shattered Smith family prepares to somehow try to go on by laying their loving son and brother Jayden to rest, a city – and an entire state – remains transfixed by the young hero’s unimaginable final act of bravery. And the clarion call echoing from every corner demands no more tributes to young, promising lives senselessly erased – only substantive change to ensure such a horrific farce of justice never happens again.

Mezhar Alee
Mezhar Alee
Mezhar Alee is a prolific author who provides commentary and analysis on business, finance, politics, sports, and current events on his website Opportuneist. With over a decade of experience in journalism and blogging, Mezhar aims to deliver well-researched insights and thought-provoking perspectives on important local and global issues in society.

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