Wary colleague may have tried to warn Judge Trudy White of accused cop-killer's ability to skip court
BATON ROUGE – It appears a 19th District Judge was wary about recurring issues with the man accused of running over and killing a Zachary Police officer this week that months before the deadly parking lot altercation, a notation was put in the suspect's file.
"Notify Judge White of new arrest," Judge Richard Anderson wrote in court documents obtained by the WBRZ News 2 Investigative Unit. Anderson's note appeared on bond paperwork for Albert Franklin.
Franklin, 33, was charged with first degree murder and hit-and-run related to the death of reserve Zachary officer Christopher Lawton Monday night. Lawton was attempting to arrest Franklin related to accusations he beat his girlfriend with an AR-15 rifle when, authorities said, Franklin tried to drive away and fatally ran over Lawton with a U-Haul truck.
Franklin has found unnecessary good will from the justice system, Zachary Chief of Police David McDavid believes. Franklin has skipped court on numerous arrests and has been granted low bonds. While bonding decision is made by the judge – in the case of Franklin, by District Judge Trudy White – McDavid questions the dollar amount.
"The system failed Chris Lawton," McDavid said Tuesday. "[Albert Franklin] shouldn't have been on the street," he said.
Possibly just as frustrated was White's colleague, Judge Anderson, who made the note in Franklin's file in November. Anderson could not be reached by phone Tuesday.
After-hours calls to White's office were not answered, either.
However, White's mother answered the phone for a number listed on campaign finance documents. The woman, who only identified herself as Judge White's mother, abruptly hung up when she realized a reporter was on the line.
Last year, White wrote an apology letter for a 2014 re-election campaign video that some interpreted as the judge pandering to criminals with a message she'd help them get off. The video, first reported by WBRZ in October 2014, showed White with Jomo Jenkins inside a courtroom wearing a prison orange outfit.
In the video, Jenkins said: " I'm down here at the 19th (Judicial District Court). But check this out: I ain't gonna be here for that long, because Judge Trudy White is fixing to send me back home. So if you want somebody to show you some love, vote for Trudy White on November the 4th."
The video, which was posted on the internet, was later removed.
In the letter sent to WBRZ, White wrote: "I am writing this letter to apologize to the citizens of Louisiana, and especially the citizens of the Greater Baton Rouge area, for the video..."
White called the video embarrassing and acknowledged the questionable lines in the script.
The letter came after she took an extended, quiet leave from the bench.
Tuesday, though, city officials in Zachary asked that the attention go toward a hero who lost his life in the line of duty.
"...I want you to honor Chris Lawton. That's who we are here to honor today," Chief McDavid said.
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