Bid to release accused child molester fails in Ascension Parish

A district judge in Ascension Parish rejected a defense attorney’s bid Wednesday to release an accused child molester from jail without posting bail because prosecutors did not file charges in a timely fashion.

State Judge Alvin Turner Jr., of the 23rd Judicial District, ruled Walter Jones “Uncle Jay” Ebey, 61, 1116 E. Fabian St., Gonzales, should remain in Ascension Parish Prison because charges filed Wednesday met the statutory deadline.

On Wednesday morning, Assistant Attorney General David Weilbaecher Jr. filed three counts of sexual battery of a girl younger than 13 against Ebey, according to a bill of information. The sexual battery occurred between Jan. 1, 2005, and Dec. 31, 2012, the document says.

Weilbaecher took over the case because Assistant District Attorney Stephen Sheets had represented Ebey in a previous civil case. Sheets recused himself Dec. 4.

Assistant Public Defender Tiffany Myles Crosby argued Wednesday in a hearing at the parish Courthouse Annex in Gonzales that the deadline to file charges had passed.

Under state law, prosecutors have 60 days to file felony charges after an arrest or the defendant can be released without bail unless just cause for a delay is shown.

Ebey was arrested Oct. 22 and prosecutors did not show just cause for a delay, Crosby told the judge.

Online jail records show Ebey was arrested and booked into Ascension Parish Jail on counts of sexual molestation and simple battery on Oct. 1, not Oct. 22.

Ebey had been extradited from Shelby County, Tenn., in late September after being arrested on warrants from the Gonzales Police Department, Weilbaecher said earlier Wednesday.

But based on the Oct. 22 arrest date, Turner found parish prosecutors still had 18 days to bring charges when they passed the case to the state Attorney General’s Office on Dec. 4.

Turner also found the Attorney General’s Office had 60 days to file charges once it received the case.

Weilbaecher did not get Ebey’s criminal file until Dec. 11, he told Turner.

“The first ruling is that there’s no need to show just cause in that the state filed the, or the AG’s Office filed the bill of information within a 60-day period,” Turner said.

But Turner also found there was just cause for a delay because of the recusal.

He added that even if he had agreed with Crosby, Ebey could be re-arrested once charges were filed.

Crosby told Turner she would appeal.

The 23rd Judicial District encompasses Ascension, Assumption and St. James parishes.