Filed Under:  Local

N.O. man still waiting to be freed after eight years with no trial

19th February 2018   ·   0 Comments

The U.S. Constitution guarantees every citizen who has been charged with a crime the right to a speedy trial. Unless, of course, you live in New Orleans.

Kevin Smith, 51, found that out in the worst way possible.

Eight years ago, in February 2010, he was arrested after Louisiana State Police and federal agents raided his Carrollton home and reported that they found baggies of crack cocaine inside a safe.

Sunday, Feb. 11, marked the eighth anniversary of that arrest and he has yet to stand trial.

For most of that time, he has been languishing in a privately run prison in Ferriday, La. despite a judge’s ruling last November that his constitutional right to a speedy trial had been denied and the charges stemming from the crack-cocaine arrest were dismissed.

Smith remains behind bars after a parole hearing was cancelled last year.

Because of prior convictions, Smith faced a sentence of 20 years to life if convicted as a habitual offender. But for more than seven years he has maintained his innocence.

The New Orleans Advocate reported that Smith faced a series of delays caused by prosecutors, his own lawyers, Hurricane Isaac and a mental competency hearing.

A hearing on Smith’s case had been scheduled by the Louisiana Board of Pardons & Parole for Jan. 25, 2018, but despite letters being sent to Smith and the Rivers Correctional Center, he was never transported to another prison to appear before the board via teleconferencing.

According to The New Orleans Advocate, Ken Pastorick, a spokesman for the state’s Department of Public Safety & Corrections, said Smith’s hearing was placed on hold because he changed his address without permission.

The publication said LaSalle Corrections and the state parole board did not respond to requests seeking comment.

Pastorick did say that the administration at Rivers Correctional Center failed to follow an order to transport Smith.

This article originally published in the February 19, 2018 print edition of The Louisiana Weekly newspaper.

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