St. Louis, MO – Just hours after a nonprofit group posted bail for a man accused of assaulting his wife, the suspect went to the woman’s home and brutally murdered her, according to prosecutors.
Samuel Lee Scott, 54, was arrested for domestic abuse on April 5, after he allegedly beat 54-year-old Marcia Johnson, injuring her cheekbone and ear, the Associated Press reported.
Scott also allegedly told Johnson that the “might as well finished what [he] started since [she] was going to contact the police,” the St. Louis Circuit Attorney’s Office wrote in a probable cause statement.
On April 9, the court granted Johnson’s request for an order of protection, and he was notified that he was prohibited from going to her residence or within 300 feet of her, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.
Later the same day, the St. Louis Bail Project posted Scott’s $5,000 bail.
“The Bail Project is an unprecedented effort to combat mass incarceration at the front end of the system,” according to the group’s website. “We pay bail for people in need, reuniting families and restoring the presumption of innocence.”
The Bail Project is comprised of “passionate advocates” known as “Bail Disruptors and Client Advocates…many of whom have experienced the bail system firsthand,” according to the website.
“We believe that paying bail for someone in need is an act of resistance against a system that criminalizes race and poverty and an act of solidarity with local communities and movements for decarceration,” the page read. “Bail is not necessary to ensure people return to court. We won’t stop until meaningful change is achieved and the presumption of innocence is no longer for sale.”
Within hours after The Bail Project enabled Scott’s release, he made his way over to Johnson’s home, arriving there at approximately 7:45 p.m., the Associated Press reported.
He proceeded to violently assault her, then left her bloodied body lying inside her home, prosecutors said.
A friend found Johnson at approximately 11 p.m., and rushed her to a hospital.
“[She] was unconscious, had a broken eye socket, several broken ribs, and was bruised from head to toe,” according to court documents.
A family member said that the attack also left Johnson with “brain damage,” KTVI reported.
The battered woman died of the blunt force trauma injuries five days later.
Police said that Scott later confessed that he had struck her, according to the Associated Press.
The Bail Project Executive Director Robin Steinberg said the group was “deeply saddened” by Johnson’s murder, but said that they were in no way responsible for what had occurred.
"No one could have predicted this tragedy," Steinberg claimed, according to the Associated Press.
"It's important to remember that had he been wealthy enough to afford his bail, or bonded out by a commercial bail bond agency, he would have been free pretrial as well,” Steinberg’s statement continued. “In times like this, we must come together for this family and keep sight of the need to transform the larger systems that create poverty, racism and violence, including the pretrial bail system."
St. Louis Bail Project site manager Mike Milton also released a statement in the wake of the brutal murder, and argued that the group's cause was more important than Johnson's murder, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.
“Nobody wants to see something like this happen, but it is crucial to remember that bail didn’t cause this tragedy,” Milton argued. “Moments like this are devastating, but it’s important not to lose sight of the larger injustices of cash bail and the need for reform.”
Scott has been charged with first-degree murder, and is being held on $1 million bond, the Toronto Sun reported.
St. Louis Attorney General Kim Gardner said she plans to meet with The Bail Project leaders in order “to review their policies and practices to help them better understand the risks to victims and witnesses when posting bail for any type of domestic violence cases or for any defendant who is a potential safety risk to an individual or to the community,” according to The Daily Caller.