No one ever said being a district judge would be easy. You’re presented with a never-ending stream of tragedy compounded by stupidity, mixed with a healthy measure of bad breaks. That’s pretty much what faced Shawnee County (Kansas) District Court judge Joseph Johnson [above] in dealing with Anthony Laverne Marshall, III. It seems young Anthony, along with his friend and fellow Trey 57 Crips gang member, Rickie D. Loyd, Jr., chose the wrong liquor store to knock over in October of 2009. When they entered the Cormier Retail Liquor store in Topeka, store owner Cliff Cormier was having none of it. He shot Loyd in the head, killing him instantly. Marshall, who was 16 at the time, was shot in the shoulder, fled and was caught later . . .
But in a hearing last September, judge Johnson denied a prosecution request to try Marshall as an adult. His reasoning? Doing so wouldn’t be in anyone’s best interest, including the community’s. Instead, the judge took the ‘scared straight’ approach.
He handed Marshall a graphic photo of his late pal Loyd taken at the scene of the crime. Johnson said Marshall needed “to see Ricky Loyd’s brain matter splattered over the liquor store’s wall.” As Marshall looked at the picture, Johnson asked him, “How cool is that? How cool is that?” No word on how cool Anthony thought it was.
Johnson reasoned that Marshall should stay in the juvenile system because:
1 His three prior convictions for theft, criminal firearm possession and battery of a school employee are misdemeanors
2 Marshall isn’t mature, functions at an 11-or 12-yearold level, has a learning disability and comes from a dysfunctional home
3 There are programs to benefit Marshall as a juvenile including academic testing, education and learning a trade
Marshall pled no contest to felony counts of attempted aggravated robbery, conspiracy to commit aggravated robbery, criminal possession of a firearm and aggravated assault with a deadly weapon.
This week, Johnson sentenced him to three years in a juvenile facility to be followed by two years of “aftercare” during which he’s to have no contact with gang members. Johnson didn’t mention whether or not Marshall will receive a time out as well.
There’s no way to predict whether or not Marshall will be able to make something of his life as a result of the judge’s leniency. You’ll forgive my cynicism in expecting him to be right back with his Crips buddies less than 24 hours after his release. Aftercare or not.
As for the community’s interests, they’ll just have to hope judge Johnson’s lenience doesn’t result in an innocent person getting hurt – or worse – when Marshall hits the streets again.
[Click here for the Judge’s 2008’s “report card”]