Justice for a Murdered Father and Daughter?
Erika Smith would have turned 13 on June 4, 2006, but she missed it by four years.
Two months after her ninth birthday, a stranger carrying a .32-caliber handgun came upon Erika when he broke into the Silver Spring home of her father, Gregory Russell. Erika ran upstairs crying for her father, who was talking on the telephone with a friend. Russell screamed his daughter's name, but it was too late. The intruder, a convicted felon on parole named Anthony Kelly, allegedly lacerated the right side of Erika's face and shot her in the back at point-blank range. He then turned his attention to Erika's father, allegedly shooting him eight times in the leg and chest, killing him.
If the United States government, in the form of the U.S. Parole Commission, the Federal Bureau of Prisons, the Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency (CSOSA), and the prisons bureau halfway house owned and operated by Hope Village Inc. in Southeast Washington, had followed policies and procedures instead of taking a series of slipshod, slovenly and negligent actions, Erika Smith would today be preparing to return to middle school soon after another fun-filled summer with her dad and her mother, Carol Smith.
The murders of father and daughter at the hands of Kelly were reported by Post staff writer Neely Tucker in a 5,151-word story in 2004 following a six-month investigation. Tucker traced Kelly's trail through prison, the federal parole system, a local halfway house in the District and the federal agency, CSOSA, that was created to keep track of D.C. inmates on probation and parole.
Along the way, Tucker reported how Kelly ended up charged with three murders, two rapes, an assault on a police officer, and the theft of five guns and five cars within several months after he walked out of prison.
This column won't tread ground already plowed by Tucker. But taxpayers ought to know about the efforts of Erika's mom to call the U.S. government and the halfway house to account for the brutal and wrongful death of her only child. Two lawsuits filed through her attorneys with the Crowell & Moring law firm in U.S. District Court in Washington spell out the havoc wrought by the government on her life. Carol Smith's lawsuits tell how:
· The Federal Bureau of Prisons, based on fraudulent representations, released Kelly five years before his sentence was completed.
· Kelly violated numerous conditions imposed by the prisons bureau upon his release to the halfway house but was not returned to prison as he should have been.
· Kelly, released into the D.C. community on March 7, 2002, under the supervision of CSOSA, managed within a seven-month span to allegedly murder, rape, assault and steal until he was captured on Sept. 5, 2002.