District Judge Kelly Case rewarded a defendant who fled the jurisdiction during his 2007 trial on a drug charge and remained at large for seven years before he was apprehended, with a new punishment hearing.
Carl Batiste never returned from a break in his trial for possession of cocaine in January of 2007, and never returned when a Montgomery County jury assessed his punishment at imprisonment for 75 years and payment of a $10,000 fine. Batiste remained at large until he was arrested in Houston County in March of this year
Judge Case granted in part a motion for new trial filed by Batiste’s current lawyer, Mike DeGeurin, on grounds that Batiste did not receive effective assistance of counsel during the punishment hearing that Batiste did not bother to attend. Batiste’s lawyer during the 2007 trial, Dexter Patterson, has retired from practice and was not present at the hearing to defend his representation of his absent client.
“I hate to see a jury’s hard work go to waste, and our office will certainly argue that the 75 year sentence a jury of Montgomery County residents felt was appropriate should guide Judge Case’s decision in the new punishment hearing,” said Montgomery County District Attorney Brett Ligon.