Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker is defending the judge who allowed accused cop-killer Emanuel Lopes to be released on bail despite having failed a drug test required as a condition of his probation on an earlier drug-dealing charge.
During an appearance on WAAF-FM's "Hill-Man Morning Show" on Thursday, Baker said Quincy District Court Judge Jeanmarie Carroll was operating "within the bounds of the discretion that she has" when she allowed Lopes to be released on bail on April 25 despite testing positive for marijuana.
Lopes was on probation for a charge of selling cocaine to minors at the time. He reportedly told his probation officer that he had a medical marijuana card, and prosecutors did not ask to have his bail revoked. The case was continued and Lopes was allowed to go free as long as he refrained from using alcohol and drugs.
During Thursday's radio interview, Baker was asked by host Greg Hill if he thinks Caroll should be fired.
"As I understand this, this is a decision that ultimately belongs to the courts," the Republican governor said. "Her decision was made within the bounds of the discretion that she has. For me the question is whether or not we're doing enough to put enough tools in the toolbox for district attorneys to make decisions about dangerousness and to pursue hearings about dangerousness. That's where the opportunity I believe rests.
"What she did in the end was a horrible mistake," Baker added. "But it was within the bounds of what she's allowed to do as a judge given the circumstances of the situation that involved that kid in front of her... I don't like the decision she made. The impact of that decision was horrible. But it was made within the framework of the system as it currently exists, and for me that means we need to do something about the framework."
"I know how frustrated and pissed off everybody is about this, and I am too," he later added. "But the thing people need to remember here is, what are you gonna do about it? The thing we ought to do about it is take this notion of dangerousness and include it in the process, rather than simply focusing on the immediate thing."
"Anybody who doesn't look at this situation and the circumstances around this, especially if they're in public life, without regret and disappointment and dismay isn't paying attention. And I certainly have a big dose of all three."
Lopes, 20, pleaded not guilty to murder charges at his arraignment Tuesday and was ordered held without bail. He is accused of shooting and killing Weymouth Police Sgt. Michael Chesna and 77-year-old Vera Adams.
Prosecutors say Chesna responded to a report of a crashed vehicle on Sunday morning when he saw Lopes throwing a rock through the window of a home. Lopes then allegedly threw another rock at Chesna, striking the officer in the head.
Chesna fell to the ground, his service weapon also falling. Lopes allegedly grabbed the weapon and shot Chesna 10 times.
When a responding officer arrived, he fired at Lopes, striking him in the leg.
Lopes fled through several yards, arriving behind a Torrey Street home. That's where authorities say he fired three shots into the home of Adams, killing her.
An estimated 3,500 people attended a vigil for Chesna on Monday. He was honored with bagpipes, flags and an honor guard at the Weymouth High School football field. His funeral is being held Friday morning. Services for Adams have not been announced.