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‘Devastating,’ nonprofit says after bailing out Missouri man accused of killing wife

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Hours after a nonprofit group bailed a Missouri man out of jail, he beat his wife so severely that she died five days later, police said, according to KMOV.

Samuel Lee Scott, 54, is accused of killing Marcia Johnson, 54, on April 9, KMOV reported. She died on April 14 — and two days later, Scott, of St. Louis, was charged with first-degree murder in connection to his wife’s death.

Prior to the murder charge, Scott had been booked into jail on April 5 on a misdemeanor domestic assault charge after he was accused of hitting his wife on “the right side of her face with his fist” in January, KTVI reported.

“While he was in jail, (his) wife got a restraining order against him which prohibited him from getting within 300 feet of her,” KSDK reported. “But one day later, his $5,000 bail was posted by The Bail Project and he went to her home ... around 7:45 p.m. At around 11 p.m., a friend of his wife brought her to the hospital after finding her bleeding from her head.”

The woman died of injuries caused by “blunt force trauma,” KMOV reported.

Court documents show Scott was released from jail on April 9 with help from The Bail Project, KTVI reported.

“The Bail Project is an unprecedented effort to combat mass incarceration at the front end of the system,” according to its website. “We pay bail for people in need, reuniting families and restoring the presumption of innocence.”

The project is a nonprofit organization, according to its website.

Mike Milton, site manager of the St. Louis Bail Project, said in a written statement that this is a “devastating” moment, according to the Post-Dispatch.

“Nobody wants to see something like this happen, but it is crucial to remember that bail didn’t cause this tragedy — Mr. Scott, a 54-year-old father, was charged with a misdemeanor, and if he’d just been wealthy enough to afford his bail he would have been free in either case,” Milton said, according to the newspaper. “Moments like this are devastating, but it’s important not to lose sight of the larger injustices of cash bail and the need for reform.”

In the statement obtained by KMOV, Milton said the group is “deeply saddened by this tragedy,” the TV station reported.

“Many of us and our close relations have lost family members to violence and we are heartbroken that this has happened to yet another member of the St. Louis community,” Milton said, according to KMOV. “Our deepest condolences and sympathies go to Marcia Johnson’s family.”

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Milton said the project “provided bail assistance based on the fact that the court had deemed him eligible for release before trial,” according to KMOV.

“No one could have predicted this tragedy,” he continued. “In times like this, we must come together for Marcia’s family and also keep sight of the injustices of incarcerating poor people before trial and the need to invest in community-based services that can support St. Louisans during times of crisis.”

St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner said her office plans to meet with the nonprofit this week to “help them better understand the risks to victims and witnesses when posting bail for any type of domestic violence cases or for any defendant who is a potential safety risk to an individual or to the community,” KSDK reported.

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