Letter to the Editor: Writer baffled by judicial system

Published 2:24 pm Wednesday, April 23, 2008

By Staff
First and foremost I want to thank you for taking the time to consider my concern. It has become very apparent to me over the past month or so that an inadequate amount of justice has been issued pertaining to the case of Mike Haveard vs. The State of Alabama.
Mike Haveard is my father and was charged on March 3, 2008, with four charges of possession of a controlled substance, four counts of distribution of a controlled substance and four counts of first-degree solicitation to commit theft. In addition to these counts, the Escambia County grand jury recommended for him an $8 million cash bond. My family and I believed that the bond was obviously too high for the charges that he was accused of, but there was really nothing we could do but wait for a bond hearing.
The bond hearing took place on March 26 at 1 p.m. and lasted until March 27 at 4:30 p.m. After hours of listening to witnesses for the State of Alabama (most of whom are convicted felons), Judge Bert Rice agreed to lower the bond to $700,000. Within only a couple of days my family and I got up enough people to sign over property worth $700,000. When the last person was signing, the Drug Task Force presented him with two more charges. One was for distribution of a controlled substance and one was for bringing stolen property across state lines. This added $175,000 to the bond.
The next day, we got up enough property to equal $175,000. My dad was released from the Escambia County Detention Center on April 8 at 11:25 a.m. It was agreed that he would be released if he would wear at GPS tracking device on his ankle at all times. This would be so that his correctional officer, Jerry Caylor, could keep track of him constantly. At 11:09 a.m., while he was still in the detention center, his GPS device showed that he was in Florida. This is obviously not true because he wasn't released until 11:21.
The same time that the device placed my dad in Florida, we have video of him from the detention center that proves that he was still inside the building. How can someone be in Florida and in the Escambia County Detention Center at the same time? This baffles me.
Another restriction with the ankle bracelet is that my dad's curfew every night was at 9 p.m. In addition to the Florida allegation, the State of Alabama also argued that my dad's curfew was missed on several occasions.
Early Friday morning (April 11) the GPS device showed that he was not at home. A policeman came to the apartment where my dad was staying and found him at home, asleep in the bed. If the GPS device is so “accurate,” then why is there so much proof that it isn't?
There were several witnesses to come to the stand and verify that he was at home at the times that the tracking device said otherwise. Most of the time, I was with him myself. I would go over there every night and visit with him until about 10 o'clock or so. There was never a time when he was left alone.
With all of this evidence showing that my dad did not violate his bond, Judge Rice still felt it was not enough to keep him out of jail.
The only evidence the state had was a GPS device that was proven to be faulty from day one. How is this enough evidence to keep an innocent man incarcerated?
The Escambia County Judicial System perplexes me more and more each day this case develops. If I could sit down and type everything unjust that has happened within this particular case, then I would be here all day. There is so much more to the story than what people think they know.
I am 18 years old and feel the need to fight for what is right in this town. I have put in countless hours of community service while in middle school, high school, and even now while I'm in college. I believe that if an individual does their duty to support his or her community, then the community should do their duty to support that individual. Although it seems that in Brewton, this idea is obsolete.
My family and I are in desperate need of some attention on this situation. We are fighting for what we know is the right thing. Everyone knows the stereotypical small town: Everyone knows everyone's business, and just will not be served to someone with a distinguished “name” in town. Don't let Brewton be that stereotypical small town.
Brittany Gibson

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