Mother of stabbed student wants Durham magistrate removed
Posted April 27, 2011
Durham, N.C. — The mother of a Northern High School student who was stabbed last month has filed a complaint against a Durham County magistrate, saying he set a low bond for the suspect in the case.
Kenya Newell asked in the complaint that Magistrate Sam Biers be removed for "multiple violations of the Code of Judicial Conduct while in office."
Biers denied any wrongdoing on Wednesday. Chief District Court Judge Marcia Morey, who oversees magistrates in Durham, was reviewing the complaint and declined to comment.
The stabbing happened in a hallway at Northern High before classes started on March 24.
Jonathan Newell, 17, was stabbed in the upper torso and had to undergo emergency surgery.
According to his mother, he was still in surgery while the student charged in the case was released on the $5,000 bond Biers set in the case.
Eric Tyrone Prince Jr., 16, of 625 Martin St., is charged with assault with a deadly weapon and having a weapon on school grounds.
Kenya Newell said Prince admitted to investigators that he had brought a knife to school for the sole purpose of stabbing her son.
Biers told Kenya Newell that a $5,000 bond was "the highest amount he gives," she said.
Morey told WRAL News previously that the charges Prince faced usually result in a bond of at least $30,000, but the amount of any bond is up to the discretion of a magistrate.
Biers, who was named a magistrate in January, said he never spoke with Kenya Newell on the phone. He says he couldn't comment specifically about the case since it's under investigation, but he said bond is to ensure a defendant shows up for court, which is what he considers in setting any bond.
Kenya Newell also alleged in her complaint that Biers was chuckling throughout their conversation and that she felt her concerns weren't being taken seriously.
"At the very least, we expect them to be courteous and not to be smirking or laughing or viewing this as not serious, particularly for a mother whose child has just been stabbed and is undergoing surgery," said the Newells' attorney, Thomas Davis.
If Morey determines the complaint is valid, it would be up to Superior Court Judge Orlando Hudson to remove Biers.