A judge in state district court reduced by half the bond of a man accused of shooting a local pastor in front of his congregation.
Judge Clayton Davis reduced Woodrow Karey’s bond to $500,000, following Karey’s indictment on a manslaughter charge.
When Karey, 54, was arrested on Sept. 27, he was charged with second-degree murder.
Defense attorneys Todd Clemons and Adam Johnson previously asked Davis to lower Karey’s bond, but Davis declined. He told the attorneys that they could come back with a second request if Karey was indicted on a lesser charge than second-degree murder.
Clemons said the defense argued that “a million-dollar bond is clearly inappropriate for a manslaughter charge. We feel like based on the fact that our client has never been arrested much less convicted of any crimes and he has strong ties to the community we feel like bond had to be substantially reduced.”
Authorities said Karey walked into Tabernacle of Praise Worship Center during a Friday night revival service and shot Pastor Ronald Harris twice with a shotgun. Karey then turned himself in, telling deputies repeatedly that Harris had raped his wife, authorities said. Karey’s wife filed a rape complaint against Harris two days prior to the shooting. Text messages between Harris and Karey’s wife “corroborated to some degree,” a relationship, authorities said. Authorities have not said whether it is believed the relationship was consensual.
Karey has been held at Calcasieu Correctional Center since his arrest.
Talisha Harris-Jacko, daughter of Ronald Harris, said she thought the bond was fair since the charge was reduced.
District Attorney John DeRosier said $500,000 “is a reasonable bond. That is of course always up to the judge and his discretion to determine whatever bond is adequate and we have faith in the judge and his ability to do that.”
The defense, as it did in the previous bond-reduction hearing, asked for a bond around $150,000.
“Five hundred thousand is certainly an improvement, but it wasn’t our goal,” Johnson said. “We put on evidence to the judge at the last hearing. All of that testimony and evidence was stipulated to again at this hearing that our client could afford a $150,000 bond should he put up his house. We certainly were aiming much lower, but we’ll do the best we can under the circumstances.”
Clemons said the defense is optimistic that Karey will bond out of jail soon, but if Karey is still in jail in 30 days, the attorneys will take a writ to the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals.
Jacko, who said she worked for the District Attorney’s Office for 10 years, met with DeRosier Monday afternoon. She said she discussed some concerns of hers — specifically she said she wanted to make sure the family was being kept informed and she said she would have liked to testify at some previous proceedings.
“I just asked for it to be fair — when somebody is allowed to testify, we should be allowed, too; pretty much just fair across the board,” Jacko said.
DeRosier said victim-assistance coordinators make sure victims are aware of court dates and circumstances as they develop in each case.
“I have personally met with the victim in the case on several occasions and plan to meet with them again,” DeRosier said. “I have explained to them personally and directly, face-to-face, that they can come and talk with me about this case any time they so desire. That’s the way we handle every case — we’re always willing to talk to our victims and their families about what has happened and to keep them posted.”