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Murder charge filed before probation case heard

Posted May 14, 2008

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— A Durham man arrested Wednesday in an April slaying is the latest person to be charged with murder while on probation for earlier offenses.

Jonathan Herrera, 22, of 319 Gray Ave., was charged in the April 19 death of 22-year-old Joel Perez, who was shot in the head in a parking lot on Welch Place.

On April 2, Herrera was charged with violating his probation from a 2006 drug case. His hearing has been scheduled for June 6.

According to court documents, he tested positive for marijuana, failed to make payments, failed to provide a change of address and failed to complete a drug program.

On top of that, he was convicted in Granville County last November of misdemeanor larceny and possession of stolen goods. The judge in the case sentenced him to more probation.

Efforts to revoke Herrera's probation began in February, but Durham probation officers said it took months to find him.

Herrera's family disputed that claim, saying he had a hard time reaching probation officers.

"He was never on the run. I don't know why they would say something like that," said his stepmother, Carol Sanchez.

Probation officials said they wanted to review Herrera's file before commenting on the case.

State probation officials have been trying to overhaul the system in the wake of the March slaying of Eve Carson, the student body president at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. The two suspects indicted in her death, Demario James Atwater, 21, and Laurence Alvin Lovette Jr., 17, had been charged with other crimes while on probation but were never jailed for violating the conditions of probation.

At least three top managers in the Wake County probation office have since been reassigned, and several employees in the Durham County office have left or been reassigned.

The National Institute of Corrections, a federal agency in the Department of Justice, has agreed to provide a team to look at case management, staffing levels, employee training and other areas of concern.

Sanchez said she doesn't believe Herrera had anything to do with Perez's death.

"I know he's had his trouble in the past, but he was doing good. He has a 3-year-old baby, and he was trying to stay out of trouble," she said.

Durham County's incoming district attorney said cases like Herrera's raise questions about the criminal justice system.

"I can't speak directly about this case because it's pending, but I would say it's frustrating for the entire system to have a person who's already in the system arrested for a violent offense, murder in particular, " said Tracey Cline, who last week won the Democratic primary and will run unopposed in the November general election.

Still, Cline said, the court system has reason to try probation over prison.

"During the process while someone is on probation, you're trying to determine whether he can reform himself," she said.

22 Comments

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  • datacIerk May 15, 2008

    crazy... go obama!

  • rlewis May 15, 2008

    Maybe our gov't should outsource probation supervision to a private company. I'd guarantee the private company would do a better job.

  • GWALLY May 15, 2008

    I love this statement......."At least three top managers in the Wake County probation office have since been reassigned, and several employees in the Durham County office have left or been reassigned."

    Government in action.....reassign someone......that will really "show" the public we mean business !!!!! Did you ever notice government employees are NEVER responsible for their actions!!! It's always "someone" else or not enough tax money!!!!

  • knock-knock May 15, 2008

    PaulRevere - good one!! I LOL!! Best in weeks

  • nbforrest May 15, 2008

    Put up fences and a tent! I had to sleep on the floor for a dui! I deserved it! We need to quit worring about crimminals. deal with them!

  • Dark_Horse May 15, 2008

    "I know he's had his trouble in the past, but he was doing good. He has a 3-year-old baby, and he was trying to stay out of trouble," she said.
    Exactly what is your definition of "doing good"? He didnt meet any of the terms of his probation.

  • PaulRevere May 15, 2008

    If all you mean Americans would just let him go to Technical College this wouldn't have happened!!! It's all your fault!

  • mmania May 15, 2008

    Getright:

    I totally agree, I saw the interview with the "mother" last night and all you heard was excuse after excuse. It was always someone elses fault. All these young punks have phones so I don't buy it for one minute he "couldn't reach them" HOGWASH!!!

  • FastPitch Mama May 15, 2008

    I agree with what angora2 stated. Also, has anyone ever looked at the salary for probation officers. It is a joke. That is why it is so hard to find and retain quality employees. When people vote in the next governor they need to remember to vote one in that cares about all state employees, not just teachers.

  • SO LOW May 15, 2008

    Fact: Robert Guy told them not to revoke... Before you take down the worker bees you need to know what you are talking about! And until you walk a day in the shoes of a probation officer, who can't do anything, then don't judge them and call them good for nothing!!!!! There have been countless nights when a person was arrested on a probation violation only to be out the next day! The PO takes them in and then leave-- they can't book them.... duh! Yeah, you have good for nothing employees working probation just like employers everywhere and there always will be!!!!

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