Crime victim petitions for relief
After filing six property crime reports since July 2012, a Patterson woman said she is fed up with a system that has not kept the man she thinks is responsible for the crimes behind bars.
Fay Babin said she came home on Oct. 30 and found James Joseph Sr., 62, of Paradise Lane in Patterson inside her house. She can’t prove it, but she suspects he was involved in five other incidents on her property.
Now she has terrifying nightmares and has applied for a concealed gun permit for her protection, she said.
Joseph was arrested by Patterson police on Oct. 30 and charged with unauthorized entry into an inhabited dwelling and criminal damage to property.
Patterson police and St. Mary Parish sheriff’s investigators have accused Joseph of several crimes in the past two years, for which he is awaiting trial on March 17.
Joseph declined to discuss the accusations against him.
Babin also is concerned about Joseph’s release from police custody despite a judge revoking his bail.
Garron Johnson, Joseph’s attorney, said Joseph is too old, sick and frail to commit all the crimes police accuse him of committing.
St. Mary Parish Clerk of Court records show Joseph was arrested nearly 40 times since 1972 with multiple convictions.
Patterson Police Chief Patrick LaSalle called Joseph a “career criminal” and a “one-man crime wave.”
Babin said she wants to change how criminals seem to escape consequences for robbing law-abiding citizens of possessions and peace of mind. She has begun a campaign for signatures to her “Enough is Enough” petition.
The petition asks for justice for victims from police, the district attorney and judges to end what she calls “soft punishments” leading to the loss of belongings and security along with “loss of respect for the system, and, God forbid, the loss of our lives.”
LaSalle was the first to sign the petition Monday. Babin is asking other officials and citizens to sign. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org for information on how to sign.
Joseph was facing trial on six arrests during a two-year period when he was arrested again on July 3 and accused of stealing more than $2,300 worth of items from a Patterson Main Street storage shed owned by Bayou Vista dentist, Dr. Robert “Doc” Adams.
Johnson said his client is a suspect in all these crimes because of his history of arrests and convictions.
Adams doesn’t buy that argument and said he understands Babin’s concerns.
“If I caught him in my barn I might would have shot him,” Adams said of Joseph. “But, if I caught him breaking into my house, I damn sure would have shot him.”
After an Aug. 1 pretrial hearing for the six earlier arrests — excluding the July 3 arrest — 16th Judicial District Judge Lori Landry revoked Joseph’s bails. He was taken back to the Patterson jail where he was housed for the July 3 Adams theft and a drug charge.
LaSalle said Joseph’s health necessitated a transfer to the parish prison in Centerville. Prison records show Joseph arrived there on Sept. 29. Joseph was released on Oct. 23, after posting $7,500 bail for the Adams theft charge.
Babin said, “He wasn’t even supposed to be out of jail when he broke into my house.”
Johnson said his client’s release was due to “an innocent clerical error.”
After arresting Joseph for the break-in, Patterson police brought him to the parish prison in Centerville where he remains awaiting trial and arraignment for the Adam’s theft and Babin break-in.
St. Mary Parish Sheriff’s spokeswoman Traci Landry and LaSalle differ on Joseph’s Oct. 23 release.
Landry said the sheriff’s office transports prisoners on behalf of the housing agency, and, as a courtesy, takes notes of court actions, which it provides to the housing agency. When Joseph was transferred to the parish prison, the Patterson Police Department provided no information on the bond revocation in his transfer documents, she said.
LaSalle took issue with that explanation.
“A prisoner arrested for a felony is a parish prisoner that I am paid to house. Contrary to what the sheriff says, I am doing the sheriff’s office a courtesy by housing their prisoners,” LaSalle said. “It is their responsibility, not a courtesy, to get him to court and take notes of what happens there.”
The Patterson jailer did not get a copy of Judge Landry’s orders and Patterson police gave the prison all documents with the prisoner when Joseph was transferred, LaSalle said.
Richard Patterson was the victim in the last of the arrests scheduled for a March trial. Patterson said Johnson attempted to enter his house through a bathroom window in the middle of the day on May 1 while he was at home.
“I couldn’t believe it. I freaked out,” Patterson said of his reaction when he went to investigate a loud beating noise.
Other cases scheduled to be tried in March include:
—An April 11 theft of an iPhone and a subsequent attempt to get a reward for its return. Three weeks after posting bail, he was accused of the bathroom break-in.
—A March 19 theft of a lawnmower and weed trimmer. Patterson police said he is seen on a home surveillance tape. Police said Joseph admitted to the theft and sold the items to purchase crack. Soon after posting bail he was accused of the iPhone theft.
—A July 30, 2012, theft of $900 worth of items and an Aug. 2, 2012, theft of about $3,000 worth of industrial equipment and metals. Police say he is seen on a surveillance camera with a child. Those incidents occurred three months after getting off probation for other criminal convictions.
—A Sept. 9, 2011 theft.
—A 2011 simple battery charge.