Monday, January 4, 2010

unfinished business

when i left st. louis to move to portland almost two years ago, there was at least one item still on my advocacy agenda there left unfinished.

on monday evening, january 28, 2008 at about 5:40 p.m. a motorist ran a red light at the intersection of broadway and cole, just north of downtown, and took out a guy on a mountain bike.

and fled the scene.

almost immediately people on the various bike listservs started pledging money to create a fund to pay a reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction, etc. both bikeworks, a nonprofit that operates an earn-a-bike program for at-risk youth, and the bikefed stepped forward to manage the fund. we put out a press release, and we snagged an interview on one of the weekend television news magazines. the mayor offered to increase the reward with $500 from his own pocket.

i retrieved a copy of the police report, which confirmed that the bicyclist had the light. he was still in the intersection as the light was changing, and apparently the motorist was watching the light change and sped up in order to hit the green running (and/or to pick off the guy on the bike). there were five or six witnesses, all of whom told the same story, and one of whom got a plate. one of the witnesses was driving a madison county bus that had a camera mounted on the outside that may have gotten pictures.

the victim suffered a broken leg, a broken pelvis, and a punctured lung. his name was not mentioned in the newspapers, and his address as given in the police report was that of a residential hotel where released sex offenders tend to take up residence. so we did not exactly have a sympathetic victim to work with. but still, hit and run, y'know?

it did not take the police long to track the plate. the weapon was a 98 yukon belonging to a levelle c. rose of 369 north 29th street, east st. louis, across the river in illinois, birthdate september 24, 1969. rose was arrested on saturday, march 1, 2008 on a charge of felony leaving the scene.

a secured bond of $25k was posted on march 6 by some outfit called hawkeye bail bonds. not clear what security was given. an arraignment was scheduled for nine a.m. friday, april 11. then on april 1, the prosecutor secured a grand jury indictment, and the case was reassigned to a different judge.

the arraignment was postponed a couple of times because rose did not have a lawyer. but finally a lawyer entered an appearance, and there was an arraignment on may 1 at which presumably rose pleaded "not guilty."

so far, so good. and right about here was when i left for portland.

a "case review" scheduled for nine a.m. thursday, june 12 was postponed because rose failed to appear. the bond security (whatever it was, possibly land in illinois) was called in, and a warrant was issued for his arrest. but then it turned out the reason rose did not appear was that he was in jail over in madison county illinois on an unrelated charge. i never did find out what that charge was.

[aside: the guy has a son with the same name, levelle c. rose, who was arrested on a charge of burglary at about the same time and is now in prison, leaving behind a fifteen year-old girl pregnant with his child. in june of 2009, that child, then five months old, was kidnapped by a seventeen year-old babysitter. the police caught up with her in fort wayne, indiana. she pleaded guilty to kidnapping and was sentenced to six years in prison.

[further aside: in may of 2009, levelle senior, the guy who took out the bicyclist, failed to show up to defend a paternity action in the city and was ordered to pay $50 a month child support to the mother of yet some other child.

[in short, nothing about this entire situation is pretty.]

[update/correction 01/23/10:

the alton-telegraph "police blotter" from may 28, 2008 clarifies that the person arrested for burglary "at about the same time" was the father, not the son. in other words, the "unrelated charge" on which rose was in jail in madison county was this burglary. the son is in prison for a different burglary.

end update/correction]

bond was reset at $20k cash only, and a second warrant was issued. trial was set for march 23, 2009. the prosecutor's office assigned a different lawyer to the case, a guy named luke anthony baumstark. on the day set for trial, rose's lawyer told the court his client wanted to plead guilty. the matter was assigned to judge margaret m. neill.

two days later, rose pleaded guilty to leaving the scene, a class d felony, maximum four years prison, $5k fine. judge neill suspended execution of sentence and put him on probation, subject to a requirement that he "obtain and maintain verifiable full time employment." she gave him credit for time served and ordered him to pay $46 to the victims compensation fund. presumably the prosecutor, baumstark, agreed to all this.

of course, full time employment is not all that easy to get and hold in the current economy, and on november 5, papers were filed with the court alleging that rose had violated the terms of his probation. bond was set at $1k cash. rose was re-arrested on december 11.

on december 17, judge neill entered an order reducing the bond to $300 cash, and this was promptly paid by someone named janet wright. so rose is out again, facing a pretty hefty sentence, and with only $300 at stake if he goes to ground.

a hearing the probation revocation is set for nine a.m. february 5, 2010 on the sixth floor of the civil courts building (the older one, with the pyramid on top). needless to say, i cannot be there, but it might be good to have some transportational bicyclists visibly present in the room and to have some public statement distributed beforehand.

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