SHREVEPORT, LA (KSLA) - Four weeks after a Shreveport couple was found murdered inside their burned-out car, the top law enforcement officer in Caddo Parish is still fuming over Louisiana’s criminal justice system - a system that allowed the accused killer to be out on parole in the first place.
Here’s the full news conference:
The bodies of Kelly Jose, 43, and Heather Jose, 33, were found in a burning car on Penick Street in Shreveport on Thursday, November 8. Police believed the pair had given a ride to a man earlier in the evening.
Dewayne Willie Watkins, 34, has been charged in connection of the Jose’s deaths. Watkins was taken into custody following a nearly six hour standoff inside a home in Penick Street.
"Our problem here is we don't feel safe," said Prator during a Thursday afternoon news conference at Government Plaza in Downtown Shreveport.
The sheriff pointed to the recent murders of Heather and Kelly Jose back on November 8th as a stark example of a deeply flawed legal system - that allowed accused killer and repeat offender DeWayne Willie Watkins, to be out on parole when the couple was killed.
"I'm not saying anybody is personally responsible for this. But I'm telling you, we can do better than this in our state. We can do better than that in our parish. And we just have to get together and be better," explained Prator.
He also brought out a display that showed the the 21 criminal arrests and 36 criminal charges in Watkins long rap sheet, along with the sentences.
Sheriff Prator also sent a letter to the secretary of Louisiana's Department of Corrections detailing his concerns.
Secretary James LeBlanc wrote back, saying Prator's letter contained "numerous falsehoods and inaccuracies," and questioned why the sheriff might go off half-cocked with a news conference before ever picking up the phone.
"Yeah, I mean, exactly. And, I think that's what my last paragraph said in there, 'why not call me and let me help you understand the situation before sending it out. And if he's, he did go off half-cocked then you gotta wonder why, you know?"
Secretary LeBlanc added that reform is at the top of his priorities as well.
"We did have a felony class task force that made recommendations to the legislature to simplify our criminal justice statutes. And that just fell on deaf ears."
That felony class task force met six times but failed to reach any consensus on legal system reforms prior to the spring legislative session.
Sheriff Prator said reforms need to come on many levels of the legal system. On that point it appears both Prator and LeBlanc agree.