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Parole board chair and board member resign amid controversy over release of man accused of killing boy, stabbing his mom

Parole board chair, board member resign amid controversy over suspect accused of killing boy, stabbi
Parole board chair, board member resign amid controversy over suspect accused of killing boy, stabbi 02:33

CHICAGO (CBS) -- Illinois Prisoner Review Board chair Donald Shelton and board member LeAnn Miller resigned on Monday after the board approved the parole of a man who is accused of stabbing his pregnant ex-girlfriend and killing her 11-year-old son a day after he was released from prison. 

Meanwhile, after the CBS 2 Investigators pressed the state for days, they finally admitted mistakes involving the release of an inmate of Stateville prison.

While Gov. JB Pritzker's office did not give a reason for either resignation, the governor's office confirmed that Miller conducted the recent parole hearing for Crosetti Brand, who is charged with stabbing his pregnant ex-girlfriend, Laterria Smith, and killing her 11-year-old son, Jayden Perkins, on the day after he was paroled. It was Miller who wrote the report recommending Brand's release from prison.

The release happened despite Smith pleading in court last month trying to get a protective order against Brand.

A Cook County judge set a March 13 follow-up hearing about the order of protection that both parties were supposed to attend and directed Brand be notified in prison.

The Illinois Department of Corrections and the Illinois Prisoner Review Board, which gave the green light on Brand's release, both initially said they did not know about the protection order hearing.

But emails and other records obtained by CBS 2 Investigators since the attack appear to contradict that, with regard to the IDOC.

A Feb. 22 email states that an employee with the Office of the Clerk of the Circuit Court of Cook County emailed the notice on the protection order hearing to an IDOC employee – with whom she also spoke on the phone.

IDOC denied knowing about the protection order hearing until CBS 2 sent them the Circuit Court Clerk's documents – proving the state was notified about the March hearing back in February.

IDOC then said it located the email, and added, "The Department sincerely apologies for any confusion its previous statement may have caused."

Attempts to reach that specific Stateville Correctional Center employee were unsuccessful.

Shortly after CBS 2 submitted this new evidence to IDOC and the Prisoner Review Board for comment, Gov. Pritzker announced the resignations Shelton and Miller.

"The Prisoner Review Board must be able to operate independently as they review enormously difficult cases, but I believe LeAnn Miller has made the correct decision in stepping down from her role," Gov. JB Pritzker said in a statement on Miller's resignation. "It is clear that evidence in this case was not given the careful consideration that victims of domestic violence deserve, and I am committed to ensuring additional safeguards and training are in place to prevent tragedies like this from happening again."

Pritzker's office also said the governor has asked the Prisoner Review Board to consult with experts and advocates to implement better training for board members when it comes to handling domestic violence cases. He also has directed the board and the Illinois Department of Corrections to review their current rules and procedures for reviewing information in cases involving domestic violence to determine if any changes are needed.

Concerns about protective orders, communication failures

Brand, who has a violent history of domestic battery, is accused of going to Smith's apartment in the 5900 block of North Ravenswood Avenue in Edgewater neighborhood on the morning of Wednesday, March 13, stabbing Smith in her neck, and stabbing her son in the chest. Smith, 33, was critically wounded but survived. Her son died.

Smith sought an order of protection against Brand in February, despite him going back to prison for violating his parole, including by trying to break into her home weeks before. The request for the order of protection was denied.

Meanwhile, Brand was granted parole on Tuesday, March 12. It was the very next day when he allegedly went to Smith's apartment and stabbed her and her son – just hours before a scheduled court hearing on her case.

CBS 2 asked if a communication failure like this could impact other people trying to get protective orders. The Cook County Circuit Court Clerk's office said yes.

"Our office transmits court orders for petitions of orders of protection and summons to appear to court to the Cook County Sheriff's Office, per legislative direction. Due to the fact that orders of protection are often filed in civil court, many agencies do not have access to the case management system, so the service of these petitions to the respondents and the notification, when an individual is in custody, is crucial to protect victims.  The notification process when an individual is in custody is also critical to ensure that the information is accessible to correctional facilities, both jails and prisons. The Clerk's Office provided a secondary notification because our policies are reflective of the need due past issues with orders being served in a timely manner."

When asked if these types of potential communication failures impact other people trying to get protective orders against inmates who could soon be released, this was the clerk's response:

"Yes. Many individuals are named as respondents in orders of protection while in they are in custody, including at IDOC, the Cook County Jail, and on the Sheriff's electronic monitoring program. These issues must be rectified immediately. The Clerk's Office is committed to working with our court and law enforcement partners and we have multiple requests in with Chief Judge Evans to release domestic violence data. This will provide transparency and accountability to every agency that plays a role in protecting victims and their children."

A statement from Circuit Court Clerk Iris Martinez to CBS 2:

"My administration is focused on protecting victims of crime, which disproportionately impacts women of color. We opened the Domestic Violence Survivors Center in the Markham Courthouse in the Southlands of Cook County to provide a safe place for women and their children to seek justice, services, and care. 

"We have partnered with the University of Chicago's Crime Lab to build a domestic violence dashboard and to provide best practices to be implemented to ensure this never happens again.  This is pending approval from Chief Judge Timothy Evans, but we would also like to see leadership from the state, county, and local leaders - whose agencies all play a role in different steps of the process to protect victims.

"A system that is PAID for by the public to PROTECT the public should be transparent.  The Clerk's office is not allowed to release data without approval, and it is clear that there are major issues with the entire court system.  When we do not provide basic data points to the public, we also hinder community providers and domestic violence advocates that are seeking grants and donations for resources to address Gender Based Violence."

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