Revolving door: Wednesday arrest reveals apparent problems

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) – News of the arrests in the murder case of twins Jeremi and Jonathan Berry brought relief to some.

However, that relief also turned to outrage when people learned one of the people arrested was out of jail on bond for murder.

Stanley Chatman, a 26-year-old from Birmingham, had a rap sheet full of serious crimes.

Chatman was convicted of manslaughter and robbery  in 2006.

He was arrested and charged with murder in March of 2013.

Now, he’s facing capital murder charges in the deaths of the Berry brothers.

Alicia Thomas, the aunt of Jeremi and Jonathan, says she just finished the obituary for her nephews.

The arrests of Chatman and Crystal Nelsonwere somewhat overshadowed by the fact that Chatman was out of jail and awaiting trial in the murder of 31-year-old Derrick King on March 2, 2013.

After being taken into custody on those charges, Chatman bonded out on March 6, 2013.

“I cannot understand how you can kill two people and get out. Then in March, I believe it was, and then here it is summer and it’s happening all over again,” Thomas asked.

Jefferson County District Attorney Brandon Falls thinks there’s a partial solution to the problem.

“There needs to be more prison space to hold the people who have committed crimes,” Falls explained. “Quite frankly, we need more jail space to hold more people who are awaiting trial.”

Chatman was sentenced to 15 years in prison for manslaughter in the death of 17-year-old Derrick Jackson. He did not serve the full.

According to Attorney Eric Guster, that’s not surprising.

“In the justice system, manslaughter is a lot less as far as the level than murder or capital murder,” Guster said.

Birmingham Police Chief A.C. Roper also doesn’t find it surprising.’

“At this time, it’s almost a catch and release program,” Roper quipped. “We have signs that our criminal justice system is getting overwhelmed.”

No one has told that to the family of Jonathan and Jeremi Berry, though.

“I don’t care about the overcrowding. People who do violent things should not be out,” Thomas said.

Copyright 2013 WIAT-TV CBS 42

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