Slaying Suspect Was Free After Probation Violation

Judge who heard probation violation gave suspect probation again; prosecutors had asked he be sent to prison

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Latonio Ridley is charged with murder in last week's deadly drive-by shooting at the Creekside Villa Apartments in Pleasant Grove, but the district attorney's office says Ridley should have been in jail on a probation violation before the shooting. (Published Wednesday, Jul 18, 2012)

    Another man who appeared before a Dallas County District Court judge for a probation violation has been charged with murder after being set free.

    In the last two months, two men who appeared before Judge Jeanine Howard and were not sent to prison for probation violations have been charged in separate killings that occurred after their release.

    Latonio Ridley, 19, was arrested Tuesday in connection with the shooting death of Ladarius Williams.

    Dallas police said Williams was a bystander killed in a drive-by shooting at the Creekside Villa apartments in Pleasant Grove on Friday morning. Shots rang out while Williams and a group of people watched an argument between two women.

    Two other bystanders, Markeisha Busby and Rayiesha Powell, were injured. Busby was shot in the lower torso by a bullet that exited through her arm, and Powell was shot in an arm.

    Ridley pleaded guilty in July 2011 in Howard's court to a felony charge of injury to a child for shooting a child with a BB gun. He received probation, a four-year deferred sentence.

    Less than a month later, Ridley was back before Howard to plead guilty to a robbery charge. Prosecutors requested that Ridley's probation be revoked and that he be ordered to serve five years in prison.

    Court documents reveal that Howard denied the prosecutors' request again gave Ridley probation.

    In May, NBC 5 reported that George Smith was free on bond for a probation violation when he was arrested in connection with a fatal double shooting.

    Like Ridley, Smith had a lengthy criminal past. He had been arrested on drug, weapons, theft and fleeing police charges.

    In 2009, Smith was convicted on a drug charge and received a deferred sentence. He violated his probation in 2010 when he was arrested on suspicion of felony theft.

    When he came before Howard on the probation violation, she released him on a personal recognizance bond.

    Howard has not responded to requests made in May to speak about the Smith case. The court coordinator said Howard cannot common on Ridley's case because it is an ongoing case.

    Ridley's murder case has been transferred to another court.