I’m not sure if it’s our access to media that we have nowadays, or it’s an escalating problem within our judicial system, but there seems to be a systemic problem in this country of people committing horrible crimes being coddled by judges.
The latest case comes from Minnesota where 55-year-old Philip Scott Bertelsen was set free without having to post bail as he awaits his trail for killing Melvin Jones and Brandy Banks-Sutta, after plowing into the back of their vehicle drunk last year. The two victims were stopped at a light at Morgan Avenue North and Olson Memorial Highway in Minneapolis on Nov. 3, 2013 when they were hit from behind by Bertelsen and instantly killed.
After a 5-month investigation, Bertelsen was charged with four counts of criminal vehicular homicide and driving under the influence.
At the time of the accident Bertelsen had a blood alcohol content of .18, which is more than twice the legal limit in the state.
But even as Bertelsen has been charged with criminal vehicular homicide, the families of the victims are furious at the fact that the judge didn’t require him to post bail before being set free to await trial. While prosecutors had asked for $300,000 in bail, Hennepin District Court Judge William Koch didn’t require Bertelsen to pay any bail at all.
Family members of the victims were absolutely shocked when the decision was announced, with one of them screaming an expletive at the judge as they left the court room.
Bertelsen was released under the conditions that he obey the law and stay away from alcohol and drugs. Real “harsh” requirements to follow for someone who’s responsible for two deaths.
Did he get released without paying bail because he’s a middle-aged white male? Possibly. While there’s obviously no evidence that says that, I just can’t shake the feeling that if he were a minority, he wouldn’t have been allowed to go free to await his trail without posting some kind of a bond. Heck, people get caught with relatively small amounts of marijuana that end up having to pay some kind of a bail to be set free. Yet this guy kills two people while he was driving drunk and speeding excessively, but he’s allowed to walk out of the courtroom only being required to “obey the law” and not drink or do drugs?
How could the prosecution have hoped for $300,000 in bail yet get nothing? They clearly had to believe that he was easily going to be required to pay bail otherwise they wouldn’t have aimed for such a high number – yet he wasn’t ordered to pay anything?
Something just isn’t right with this case. But it’s just another instance, in a growing trend of them, where someone accused of committing a terrible crime is given a mind-boggling slap on the wrist from a judge.
Let’s just hope his “freedom” is short-lived and he sees the inside of a jail cell very soon.