July 3rd Weekly Update!
Date: Tue, Jul. 03, 2007
When we wrote to you last week, we were awaiting a hearing in the Dinerral Shavers case, and we promised to update you on both Dinerral's and Helen Hill's cases this week, six months after their deaths.
Unfortunately, the Dinerral Shavers case took a turn on Friday that has commanded all of our attention since that day.
On Friday, Kimya Holmes, the Assistant District Attorney in charge of prosecuting the case against David Bonds, moved to dismiss the case for lack of witness testimony. The little girl who had initially come forward as a witness is now declining to testify. While we would like to see the case prosecuted with the aid of her testimony, we can understand why the young girl and her mother are reluctant. They have been threatened; they report having been treated rudely by the DA's office; and they wonder why they have become the sole sources of evidence when Dinerral's wife, stepson, and a friend were in the car when he was shot.When the young witness in question came forward, her statement should have become a useful tool and the starting point for futher investigation. Instead, and despite her hesitation from the start, it seems that those responsible for investigating and prosecuting
this case relied entirely on her testimony to present the case. A more complete and sound case was never built, in the optimistic hope that this witness would come through in the end. Although a trial date had been set, as of last Friday the DA had no more on this
case than they had six months ago. Apparently no further work or preparation had been done with the pieces of evidence they began with. From the start, Dinerral's case was regarded as an easy A, a sure bet at a conviction. David Bonds was arrested the day after Dinerral was killed; a gun was recovered; a motive was established; and witnesses were present. If the criminal justice system cannot
seal this case, it will represent a serious indictment indeed of our would-be protectors, and cause for considerable alarm on the part of New Orleanians.
We do not intend to let this happen. SilenceIsViolence is calling on the NOPD and the DA to continue pursuing this case and to consider the following in particular:1. David Bonds' previous record, including a 701 release in 2006.
2. The importance of testimony from Dinerral's wife and stepson in order to establish motive and to strengthen the scenario being entertained by the prosecution.
3. The value of inviting participation from ANYONE associated with the series of events and the putative
motive on the day Dinerral died: ß members of Dinerral's band, the Hot 8, were with him shortly before the shooting
ß students and other neighborhood youth might have been aware of the supposed tension between David Bonds and his friends and Dinerral's stopson Thaddeus
ß phone records could confirm the sequence of calls placed by and to Dinerral that led to his involvement in this tension
4. In general, we are not satisfied that a thorough canvassing of the neighborhood was undertaken in order to gather all potential evidence, information, and witnesses following Dinerral's death.Several important improvements have been introduced to the DA's office since Dinerral's case began, and we expect to see these new resources directed to this case. In particular, we are calling for the new Violent Offenders Prosecution Unit of the DA's office
to take over prosecution of the case. We are also calling for new Witness Assistance resources to be applied, and for all potential witnesses to be offered every protection and assistance possible. We are happy to announce that Crimestoppers will be working with SilenceIsViolence to encourage further witnesses to come forward. We will be posting notices around the location where Dinerral was shot asking further witnesses to come forward. We would also like
to thank those members of the media who have taken it upon themselves to research the circumstances of this murder. The contrasting silence from City Hall in response to this shameful dismissal--and the continued violence in the city--is inexcusable. Sadly, we do not have much better news to share with respect to Helen's case. There still has not been an arrest, and there are no real suspects. Helen's case will be featured on America's Most Wanted within the next several weeks, however, which we hope will
sustain attention on her case and perhaps lead to a new level of investigative intensity. This week, as we remember Dinerral's and Helen's lives and mourn their deaths, we will also be demanding renewed attention to their cases, and to solving the two murders that represented the last straw for those of us who marched together on January 11. Each and
every murder that strikes New Orleans is an immeasurable tragedy. We expect that these two very high-profile murder cases will be pursued with the highest level of professionalism not as exceptions, but as examples of the seriousness with which our leaders are prepared to treat every murder case. That will represent a tall order: last Sunday, we suffered the 100th murder in New Orleans for 2007. Our efforts as a community must continue to combat the violence in our neighborhoods and nurture alternatives for our young people (the Youth Music Clinics that
SilenceIsViolence resumes this Tuesday evening serve as one modest example). But these efforts must work in conjuction with a criminal justice system that makes better use of the growing resources at their disposal and demonstrates to residents that justice
can and will be done in violent cases, that the system is earnestly working with us to make our neighborhoods safer.
Ken and Baty