Randy Lee Baskerville was not the only one “shocked” Thursday afternoon when district judge Sue Carol Browning let him out of jail on shock probation.
County attorney Joe Ross and the family of Jerry Crowley were shocked at Browning’s offer to let Baskerville out of jail six months early from serving a one-year sentence for fourth degree assault.
Baskerville was found guilty May 11 of a misdemeanor, in which he went to trial for after an altercation broke out between the two men on July 11, 2011. According to Baskerville, he had hit 50-year-old Crowley once or twice during the altercation shortly after Baskerville threw a bottle of alcohol on Crowley’s front yard. Crowley never regained consciousness and died as a result of blunt force trauma five days later.
Baskerville was originally charged with assault first degree, a felony that carries up to a 20 year sentence; however, Commonwelath Attorney Gail Guiling was concerned she may not be able to get a conviction on that charge, which would require her to prove Baskerville intentionally meant to kill Mr. Crowley, so she took the case back to the grand jury who lowered the charge.
Baskerville, the only witness in the case, has claimed he didn’t mean to kill Crowley, but felt threatened by him and that was why he hit him. Baskerville did admit that Crowley never touched him, however.
What is so astonishing to the Crowley family and attorney Ross, was judge Browning’s decision to allow Crowley shock probation.
Shock probation is the policy by which a judge orders a convicted offender to prison for a short time then suspends the remainder of the sentence in favor of probation. Shock probation allows defendants an opportunity to receive probation after a short period of time in a correctional facility. The theory underlying shock probation is that immersing a defendant in the penal system for a short period of time could ‘shock’ him or her into a noncriminal lifestyle.
Attorney Ross felt sure that Baskerville would not be allowed the luxury of his request, because of his past criminal record, which to Ross proved Baskerville could not be “shocked” now, if he hadn’t been in the past.
Ross had informed judge Browning that Baskerville had been previously convicted of two counts of first degree wanton endangerment in Logan County where he had received five years. He was also convicted of first degree fleeing and evading police and three counts of first degree wanton endangerment in Barren County where he had received two years and the theft of over $300 in Todd County where he had received 20 years.
“As I stated at the initial hearing on the motion, I opposed any probation. The jury handed down the maximum sentence because this was as serious of a situation as you can have in district court. I further do not think Mr. Baskerville deserves shock probation because of his lengthy criminal history, which included three felony convictions and one that included a sentence of 20 years,” said Ross.
Mr. Crowley’s sister, Debbie Torricellas, said she was speechless concerning the decision.
“At this point, I don’t even know what to say,” said Torricellas. “I feel like there was no justice for my brother. I feel like the whole system let him down. Only one side is shocked here and it is us. I don’t understand how someone who has been convicted of several violent crimes in the past can qualify for shock probation.”
When Baskerville’s attorney, public defender Nat Beard, requested shock probation from judge Browning for his client a week ago, he contended that Baskerville was provoked to hitting Crowley. Baskerville testified during a police interview saying Crowley had made a motion towards him and he felt threatened. Beard told the judge that his client was not a threat to society and that he apologized for what had happened. Browning said she would consider the request and make a decision within a week. Her decision came in Thursday afternoon.
Browning gave Baskerville two choices, he could finish serving out his six months in the Logan County Detention Center or she would release him on supervised probation for two years on the conditions of no drugs, alcohol or illegal activity, no contact with the victim’s family and he must get at least a part-time job within 30 days. Baskerville chose the latter.
“You can be in big, big, big trouble if you are in contempt of any of these, plus the time you have left on this sentence,” said Browning to Baskerville, who agreed.
Browning told Baskerville that she thought if people worked they wouldn’t feel like getting in trouble.
“You can’t even have a bourbon ball at Christmas,” said the judge.
“No ma’am, I’m done with that. I understand. I swear. I know you’re putting a whole lot on the line for me,” said Baskerville to Judge Browning, who added that bad luck, given his record, seemed to follow him.
Baskerville agreed saying, “Yes ma’am, I put myself in that position a lot of times.”
Browning told Baskerville that he could minimize that bad luck by avoiding “stupid” things like drugs and alcohol and being out after 9 p.m.
“Nothing good ever happens after 9 p.m.,” said Browning adding, “This was horrible, but I think the grand jury spoke volumes when they indicted you, it shows you did not intend for this to happen. I’m truly sticking my neck out for you, please don’t make a fool out of me.”
Baskerville said he would not and promised.
“I’ve changed my life ma’am, I’ve been baptized and I got saved right after making bond and I’m ready for a new life,” said Baskerville.
Judge Browning asked him where he was going to church.
Baskerville answered, “Second Baptist. A lot of people that work here (the courthouse) go there.”
“I believe in you and I have prayed and prayed and prayed and this is the answer I got, it’s the right thing to do,” said Judge Browning on letting Baskerville out of jail.
“All you owe us is to do right,” she ended.
Torricellas said at least a 100 family members have been affected by this “horrible” crime.
“We’ve lost a special person in our life and it has affected and caused things in our family no one should have to deal with. My mother has had to deal with things she should never have had to deal with,” said Torricellas. “How could this happen?” she added.
Torricellas said in honor of Jerry, she is going to pledge her life to helping victims in this town get justice. “I want to help people feel safe to go outside their houses and enjoy themselves. These people who do crimes over and over and over again, will eventually have to meet their makers. Someday justice will be served,” said Torricellas.