Two men accused of participating in the alleged rape of Lousiana State University student Madison Brooks before dropping her off on a roadway where she was later fatally struck by a car have been released on bond.
Kaivon Deondre Washington, 18; a 17-year-old male who has not been named due to his age; Everette Lee, 28; and Casen Carver, 18, were charged on Monday with the sexual assault of 19-year-old Brooks.
The East Baton Rouge Sheriff’s Office said that a severely intoxicated Brooks was callously dropped off along a road in a neighbourhood near Pelican Lakes Parkway after two of the suspects allegedly raped her in the early morning hours of 15 January. Brooks was hit by a vehicle and died hours later in the hospital.
On Wednesday, Mr Lee and Mr Carter, who are facing charges of principal to rape, were released after posting bonds of $75,000 and $50,000, respectively. Mr Washington and the underage suspect, accused of rape in the third degree, remain in jail, local news station WBRZ reported.
Under the bond terms, the released suspects were ordered not to make social media posts about the case or make contact with Brooks’ family, to submit for random drug testing and be placed on house arrest and to wear an ankle monitor. The 17-year-old’s bond hearing has been postponed to February.
The case has sparked outrage in the community of Baton Rouge and calls for the suspects to be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. On Tuesday, the defence’s claim that video of the attack showed Brooks had “consented” to the sexual acts backfired when a judge determined that if anything, the tape reinforced their disregard for Brook’s life and violation of her rights.
Brooks, a 19-year-old Alpha Phi sorority sister, spent the night of 14 January at Reggie’s Bar and met her four alleged attackers there.
Footage from the bar shows Brooks falling over several times, stumbling and struggling to stand in front of at least one of the suspects before they left the bar together, according to an arrest warrant.
Investigators said Brooks was then sexually assaulted by the four men in a car before they dropped her off. A ride-share driver then struck the 19-year-old and she died hours later in hospital.
On Tueday, the three adult suspects appeared in court where their bond was set and prosecutors vowed to upgrade charges against them.
At the bond hearing, 19th Judicial District Judge Brad Myers said that he had watched a video filmed by one of the four suspects inside the car with Brooks.
The judge said that the video shows the suspects “callously” laughing at the drunk 19-year-old woman as she slurred her words, reported local outlet WAFB.
The judge concluded that – based on the video, footage from Reggie’s bar and statements made by Mr Carver to investigators – it was clear that a crime had occurred that fateful night.
“The evidence to me is clear,” he said.
The suspects had hoped that the footage shot inside the car would prove their innocence with an attorney for Mr Washington and the 17-year-old claiming hours earlier that it shows Brooks consented to having sex with the suspects.
Attorney Ron Haley told KSLA ahead of the court appearance that the video shows Brooks “was intoxicated” but not to point that she could not “lawfully give consent or answer questions” during sex with the suspects.
He described what happened to the LSU student as “a tragedy” but “definitely not a crime”.
“Absolutely not a rape. Listen this is a tragedy, definitely not a crime,” Mr Haley said.
“Can you tell, that she was intoxicated, yes. To the point under the law that you say you’re in a drunken stupor, to the point that you cannot lawfully give consent or answer questions, absolutely that was not the case.”
Mr Haley also said that Brooks allegedly told the suspects that she was going to order an Uber after an argument unfolded.
“Based on a disagreement, she got out of the vehicle. She indicated she was getting an Uber,” Mr Haley alleged. “I want the public to know, these young men or really the driver of the vehicle and the young men that were in there, did not put her off on the side of the road.”
But, instead of supporting the suspects’ version of events, Judge Myers said the video was evidence of a crime against the 19-year-old.
Now, prosecutors in the case have also vowed to upgrade the charges against the alleged attackers. Prosecutor Stuart Theriot said at the hearing that the state would seek upgraded charges of first-degree rape and planned to convene a grand jury in the case.
According to an arrest warrant, suspect Mr Carver told investigators that Brooks had been “very unstable on her feet, was not able to keep her balance, and was unable to speak clearly without slurring her words”.
But, despite her state of intoxication, two of the suspects proceeded to have sex with her inside the car, Mr Carver told police. He later told police that he “felt uncomfortable and hated it.”
When asked by investigators if he believed Brooks was too impaired to consent, Mr Carver reportedly said, “I guess.”
Brooks’ autopsy shows injuries from a sexual assault, according to court documents.
On Tuesday, Reggie’s Bar also had its liquor license suspended for allegedly serving alcohol to the victim and three of her attackers, who were underage.
Brooks’ blood alcohol level was four times the legal limit at the time of her death.
Kris Perret, an attorney for Reggie’s Bar, said in a statement to NOLA.com that the owner “has fully cooperated with the East Baton Rouge Sheriff’s Office, Louisiana State Police and the East Baton Rouge ABC office since their first requests for assistance in their ongoing investigations and will continue to do so”.