Poster Boy For New Orleans Justice System Released Again


Garelle Smith, from one of New Orleans’ toughest neighborhoods, was already a poster boy for the city’s troubled criminal justice system before prosecutors declined to charge him this week in the August slaying of Mandell Duplessis, reports the Los Angeles Times. When Smith was arrested in January, an editorial in New Orleans Times-Picayune noted that he had been a suspect in two previous slayings but never went to trial. The paper called Smith “the beneficiary of a gummed up criminal justice system.” If he wasn’t put away this time, the paper said, the police chief and head prosecutor would “face the full brunt of an angry public.”

Smith, 25, was released yesterday. Craig Famularo, chief of the homicide division in the Orleans Parish district attorney’s office, said the evidence against Smith was thin. Police arrested Smith because someone had heard him admit the crime. But two witnesses said Smith was not at the scene. It is a familiar story. Before Hurricane Katrina, a study by the Metropolitan Crime Commission found that only 12 percent of homicide arrests resulted in jail time. Duplessis’ mother, Nadine Finister, is concerned the investigation into her son’s slaying is going nowhere. She said no one from the prosecutor’s office or Police Department had called her. “It’s a mess,” she said. “It’s a real mess down here.”


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