A Juvenile Court judge ruled Monday that a 15-year-old Baton Rouge boy charged with murder in a deadly home invasion last year should stand trial as a juvenile, denying a request by prosecutors that he be tried as an adult.
After two days of testimony, Judge Pamela Taylor Johnson found Darien Bailey has “borderline” intelligence and the mind of about a 10-year-old, though he was 14 when he was arrested in the Nov. 6 fatal shooting of Derrick Marioneaux.
Bailey has better chances of being rehabilitated through Office of Juvenile Justice services than if he were to become a “victim” among the older adult prison population, Johnson determined.
If convicted, Bailey could be held in a state juvenile facility until he is 21. He could have been imprisoned until his 31st birthday had he been tried and convicted as an adult.
Assistant Public Defender Jack Harrison said Johnson’s ruling was appropriate. While Bailey and his family have sympathy for Marioneaux’s family, Harrison said, “the tragedy of his death would not have been lessened” by transferring the juvenile case to state District Court.
“The law requires a clear showing of specific evidence,” Harrison said. “The DA’s office did not have the evidence required by the law, and they did not present any such evidence to the court.”
Prosecutors had argued that Bailey poses a high risk of violence to the public, and that the state’s juvenile justice system is ill-equipped to rehabilitate him. Assistant District Attorney Curtis Nelson Jr. said he would appeal Johnson’s ruling to the 1st Circuit Court of Appeal.
“We feel that he’s not amenable to rehabilitation, and it then becomes a matter of public safety,” Nelson said.
Bailey is scheduled to stand trial April 22 in Juvenile Court.
Prosecutors said DNA evidence found on a ski mask links Bailey to a home invasion homicide that happened at 6:30 p.m. Nov. 6 at Marioneaux’s home on Wyandotte Street. Bailey’s older brother, Benjamin Bailey, 20, and cousin, Juan Herbert, 21, have been indicted on second-degree murder charges in the slaying.
The suspects are accused of kicking in Marioneaux’s front door and opening fire with a sawed-off shotgun, assault-style rifle and .22-caliber handgun as the victim sat eating at his table. Marioneaux was struck several times in a barrage of gunfire, police have said.
Darien Bailey inadvertently shot his cousin during the home invasion, prosecutors said, and the suspects were arrested after taking Herbert to the hospital. Prosecutors have pointed to robbery as the motive of the home invasion.
In her ruling Monday, Johnson said prosecutors had linked Darien Bailey to the crime but failed to prove, as required by state law, that there was no “substantial opportunity for the child’s rehabilitation through facilities available to the court.” That finding contradicted the expert testimony of Dr. Jesse Lambert, a forensic psychologist who determined Darien Bailey suffered from severe conduct disorder and had little chance of being rehabilitated in the juvenile system.
Lambert said he had based his findings, in part, on the teen’s history of violence and run-ins with law enforcement. Lambert told Johnson last week that he was concerned about the “intensity” of Darien Bailey’s symptoms, and that the teen would require years of treatment, including psychotherapy, medication management and “empathy training.”
But Johnson noted Monday that Darien Bailey had not been found guilty after any of his six arrests prior to the murder charge. She said the state had services available for the teen that had not been offered before because the earlier charges were dismissed.
“The child has never been adjudicated delinquent on anything,” Johnson said. “We have not provided any services whatsoever.”
Darien Bailey would be better off in juvenile custody if convicted, Johnson said, because he would have access to a child psychiatrist and specially trained staff.
Were he to be sent to an adult prison, the judge said, Darien Bailey would not even be required to attend school despite the state’s compulsory attendance law.
Harrison said Darien Bailey’s family relocated to Baton Rouge from New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina.
The teen’s mother has said her son began having behavioral problems after he was hit by a car while riding his bicycle a couple of years ago.