Local News

More Homicide Arrests Point to Problems With Probation System

Posted April 1, 2008

— Two more men accused of homicides in Durham in recent months were on probation for misdemeanor crimes when they were arrested.

It's more evidence of problems with the state's probation system, which has come under scrutiny following the arrests last month of two men charged in the shooting death of University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill student Eve Carson.

Durham leaders say the problem is statewide.

"I'm devastated, and everyone should be," Durham City Councilman Eugene Brown said. "I don't know how much more evidence we need to understand the harsh reality of the fact that this system is not working."

Toriko Mercer, 23, who is charged with murder in the March 28 death of David Anthony Taborn, was on probation for two misdemeanor larceny convictions.

Gary Brady, 46, was arrested Jan. 18 in the Nov. 23 shooting death of Derrick Burch. At the time, his probation was in the process of being revoked for alleged violations.

Both men were on "community-level" probation, which is the lowest level of probation, Department of Correction spokesman Keith Acree said.

"It concerns us to see numerous incidences of that in the same place," he said. "That's more than we'd like to see. (We're) trying to determine what we can about how they were handled and do what we need to do to correct any situations we find there."

Last month, the DOC's director of the Division of Community Corrections ordered an internal investigation into the probation cases of two men charged in Carson's March 5 shooting death. Director Robert Guy is expected to release the results of that probe Wednesday.

Demario James Atwater, 21, was in court in Raleigh two days before Carson's death for a probation violation hearing, but it was rescheduled because of a clerical error. It was one of several mistakes WRAL found last month in Atwater's case.

Laurence Alvin Lovette Jr., 17, who is charged in Carson's death and the Jan. 18 shooting death of Duke University graduate student Abhijit Mahato, was released from jail on probation Jan. 16.

DOC officials said last week that his probation officer made telephone contact with Lovette but never saw him outside of court during the six-week period between Mahato's and Carson's deaths.


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  • k557451 Apr 2, 2008

    "Durham leaders say the problem is statewide" Another let me muddie up the water so maybe they won't see how much I've screwed up.
    How about cleaning up what you can and then point out the other issues.

  • kenloe3981 Apr 1, 2008

    Most working people ...myself included...pay taxes. The money goes to pay people ...cops , judges, and other persons in the judical system. The cops for the most part seem to catch a lot of crooks. Somewhere inbetween the judge and his golf buddy let me line your pockets public defender they get off. More time to rob and kill. The gang members get put in their work by doing so. So if they do ever get any prison time...they have a high status on the inside. The answer is not programs and giving them checks ....Put them in jail and if they commit murder give them death. I bet by doing the murder rate would go way down.Probation has once again proven itself a joke!

  • tbonesmitty48 Apr 1, 2008

    It is a matter of survival now. For those that do not want us to own my own guns so only the criminals will have them they are safe in their homes. But for the people that live in normal cities who have to defend themselves the police are overwhelmed all I can say is defend yourself they say do not profile I say watch the news you decide. It does not matter who wins the election crying is on an increase from the time the break your front door and you call the police it is too late that is why I am looking for the candidate he that will let you defend yourself you have to choose the lesser of all evils when you're talking politics there is no lesser they all have an agenda as of now I don't care who wins I just know I can rely on Smith & Wesson that does no sound good but when someone is breaking your door are you going to call a politician and the police are overwhelmed I like Texas because everybody owns a gun supposedly so they think twice about committing a crime think twice befo

  • 1SmartLady Apr 1, 2008

    You sound bitter, must have had an experience on probation before. The probation officer is at the bottom on all this. I haven't heard anything about all the people involved before it got the probation officer. Arresting Officer/DA/Judge/Court Appointed Attorney,Clerks Office that made the mistake, they are all part of the process.....

  • whatusay Apr 1, 2008

    1SmartLady...then why is the probation officer needed?...my whole point...we do not need probation officers because they serve no purpose, except being paid by taxpayers. Probation officers do not prevent crimes from the criminals they are responsible for. No way.....we do not need probation officers. Just millions and millions of dollars being spent for nothing.

  • 1SmartLady Apr 1, 2008

    I do want to make the bloggers aware that Judges in some counties across this state have sentenced criminals they new were on probation and put a condition on their judgment that the current conviction not be used as a violation of their probation. JUDGES are ordering this. If the probation officer is waiting on that conviction and this condition is put on the judgment. The probation officer can't use it. It is a court order signed by the Judge. Anyone care to comment on that??

  • whatusay Apr 1, 2008

    nabrook19...the job does needed...probation officers are not needed...they are getting paid for nothing...Put the criminals in jail and keep them there, if they commit another crime (which a probation officer can not control), put them back in jail.

  • 1SmartLady Apr 1, 2008

    The good ones, and there are some, cause you can't judge the entire state by one county, don't get paid enough and then the other ones are paid too much. At a little over $27,000 to house ONE inmate in a MEDIUM SECURITY FACILITY for one year, that is not even a starting point in salary.

  • nlbrooks19 Apr 1, 2008

    whatusay -- probation is a difficult job.. perhaps you should do yourself a service and go to work with a probation officer for a day. As an officer, you are a counselor and a law enforcement officer. You go to the probationer's houses, usually alone - community officers are not armed, and most of the time no one else is aware of where you are -- unlike a law enforcement officer who consistently checks out on the radio. The officer must keep track of each probationer's address, employment, compliance w/ court fees, new crimes committed, and entering violations along w/ setting up court dates, arresting violators, etc. Yes there are flaws in the system, but a probation officer doing nothing -- that is NOT the case. The officers have a lot of responsibility to ensure criminal comply with court and it is not in their nature to comply with anything. As I said, probation will be the scapegoat when they should look at the system as a whole, including the courts and sentencing.

  • whatusay Apr 1, 2008

    1SmartLady...how much does a probation officer make a day?...for doing nothing x 1,000 = millions. Much more than keeping a criminal in jail.