The City of Ruston’s Board of Aldermen will meet Monday, May 4, 5:30 PM, Ruston City Hall, first floor courtroom.
Here is the agenda.
Brandon Bonton, an alleged accessory to the murder of Dr. Sue Hashawy, was assigned a new indigent defender in Third Judicial (Lincoln, Union Parishes) District Court this afternoon in Ruston.
Ruston Attorney Scott Killen was assigned to handle Bonton’s defense.
In addition to the accessory to 2nd degree murder, Bonton is charged with accessory to burglary, possession of stolen things, and theft of a firearm.
A June 23, 1:30 PM hearing is the next court date in the case.
Division B Judge Tommy Rogers presided.
As we had reported in January, the personnel shuffle in the Third Judicial (Lincoln, Union Parishes) District Attorney’s Office has caused delays once again in the prosecution of the accused murderer of retired Grambling State University Professor Dr. Sue Hashway.
The DA’s office recused itself from the prosecution of the alleged killer, Cameron Mays, because new hires in the office formerly were involved as public defenders for Mays. Deanna McCallum, who is the wife of another judge in the 3rd JD, Jay McCallum, and Lewis Jones, who was recently a candidate for 3rd JD Judge, are now Assistant District Attorneys.
Assistant Attorney General Mike Ruddick, based in Monroe, will be handling the case.
Ruddick told Lincoln Parish News Online at this morning’s court hearing that he had been given the case “two or three weeks ago,” and that Mays’ trial, now set for September 28, would likely have to be delayed beyond that date so that he could familiarize himself with the case files.
Hashway was killed nearly three years ago, in June 2012, in the normally quiet Cypress Springs neighborhood of Ruston, in what appeared to be a home invasion and robbery. Several days after the crime, the Ruston Police Department (RPD) arrested Mays and charged him with Hashway’s murder. He was also charged in another home invasion and rape that occurred in the same neighborhood.
Today’s developments came after bailiffs attempted to close the courtroom to the public. It was said that to relieve courtroom crowding, only those whose names appeared on the docket would be allowed in, and after their cases were heard and they left the courtroom, then others would be allowed in.
We protested, and were let in.
On this point, Louisiana’s Constitution is succinct and clear.
Article 1, Sec. 22 – Access to courts
All courts shall be open, and every person shall have an adequate remedy by due process of law and justice, administered without denial, partiality, or unreasonable delay, for injury to him in his person, property, reputation, or other rights.
The next hearing is set for 9:00 AM, July 21.
At 1:30 PM this afternoon, another defendant involved the Hashway case, Brandon Bonton, is scheduled for a preliminary exam hearing.
A just-released audit for the City of Ruston said that a quarter million dollar public works project was let without bids, in violation of the state’s public bid law, LA RS 38:2212.
The violation occurred during fiscal year 10/1/2013 – 9/30/2014, which would have been under former Mayor Dan Hollingsworth’s administration.
Management’s response, presumably from newly-elected Mayor Ronny Walker, noted that the city administrator in charge of the project was no longer employed by the city, and that additional training would be conducted regarding bid laws.
See here the complete report.
The New Living Word Lions basketball team were at last night’s meeting of the Ruston City Council, along with a slew of parents, coaches, teachers and fans, to be recognized and read a proclamation by Mayor Ronny Walker.
Last month, the Lions won the Louisiana High School Athletic Association (LHSAA) Class C basketball championship for the second consecutive year.
Jerry Baldwin, the school’s founder, introduced the team members and the coaches to the crowd and thanked the council and mayor for the recognition.
Walker read from the proclamation, “…whereas the New Living Word Lions Basketball Team is the only back-to-back state championship team in Ruston…,” and presented Baldwin with a plaque.
In other business, the council approved a professional services agreement with computer consultant Charles Stachacz for work on integrating the city’s utility billing computer systems.
Walker noted the problems that had plagued the system earlier this year, and thank the city’s utility customer’s for their patience.
Said Walker, “To our citizens, we appreciate your patience with this. This has not been easy for any of us.”
Also approved was an agreement with Neel-Schaffer, Inc., for engineering services. The proposed project is rework of the Cooktown Road/I-20 interchange and adjacent service roads.
The unthinkable has finally happened.
Friday, The Ruston Daily Leader printed an opinion piece actually critical of something that a government agency has done. Normally, the RDL is but a cheerleader for government, defending every action and every tax from the sheriff, the school board, the City of Ruston, and so on.
You know way more about the garden at the Lincoln Parish Detention Center than how many taxpayer dollars it takes to operate the facility, if you read the RDL.
Specifically, April Kelly has called into question the wisdom of District Attorney John Belton’s plan to set up speed traps in Lincoln Parish to help collect revenue to operate his office.
In her opinion piece titled “Speed trap or money trap?” Kelly concluded:
It is definitely a cause for concern when issuing tickets becomes more about financial gain than public safety.
See the article here.
Rogers has no idea where KNOE-TV8 got their information, he said.
We are happy to correct the misinformation, and apologize to the RPD for the error.
GRAMBLING, La. (KNOE 8 News & KTBS) – UPDATE: Tuesday, KNOE was told by a GSU spokesperson that Ruston Police were investigating an alleged rape on the Grambling Campus. Wednesday, Ruston Police tell KNOE they are NOT the investigating agency. GSU Police confirm they ARE investigating the allegation. KNOE regrets this error.
GRAMBLING, La. (KNOE 8 News & KTBS) – A Grambling State University Spokesperson and Ruston Police confirm an alleged rape involving two students on the GSU campus is under investigation.
The father of the alleged victim says his daughter was raped in a Fredrick Douglass dorm room Saturday night or Sunday morning.
Her father says she had been drinking with friends, but he suspects she was given drugs. The victim told her father she has limited memory of what happened, but knows she passed out and woke up nude in a bath tub.
Ruston Police say they have interviewed witnesses and are collecting evidence, and GSU acknowledges an alleged sexual assault on campus.
Ruston Police say at this time they are not ready to make an arrest.
grambling spokesperson Eric Eaton says the university is having Ruston Police handle the investigation, and any impending arrest in this case.
Eaton says the university has offered the victim counseling.
The council unanimously approved a cooperative endeavor agreement with the North Louisiana Military Museum. That agreement authorizes the city to pay for utilities, up to $5,500/yr. Other operations of the museum are funded by the state, via the Secretary of State’s Museums Division.
Museum Director Ernie Stevens thanked the city for its support.
Said Stevens, “I just wanted to come here this afternoon to express to the council how grateful we are for your past support for the military museum, and how deeply appreciated that you considered this today. Thank you.”
Water Utility’s Keith Jeselink was authorized to apply for Louisiana Office of Community Development grant funds for work on the water system in the Snowden Street area, off Barnett Springs.
Jeselink said that the project would go forward regardless, but that the additional funding would help the project along.
Lincoln Parish Police Juror Theresa Wyatt (District One), spoke in support of the project.
Jeselink said that the project would hopefully be well underway later this year.