NBC 15 asks judges for answers following record of accused attempted rapist
MOBILE, Ala. (WPMI) —
A horrific attack in the RSA parking tower uncovers a bigger issue, one putting our community at risk every day.
Police say the attacker in this case is Douglas Dunson, a man with more than two dozen criminal charges on his record.
Looking at the court records, a disturbing pattern emerges, one that if caught in time, may have protected this latest victim.
We found Dunson was arrested four times in six months for indecent exposure for incidents on December 18, February 15, May 17 and May 25.
NBC 15 News sat down with Municipal Court Judge Karlos Finley to ask why our judges are forced to release a repeat criminal out on the streets.
“My hands are tied. I’m bound by the law,” Judge Finley said.
Judge Finley laid out a stack of court documents for NBC 15 News. From document to document, Finley pointed to the same three words “no sworn complaint.”
“The charge here for December 18, there's no sworn complaint,” Finley said. “Here he comes before me with no sworn complaint on the 29th of January. The case was charged on the 26th of January, that's three days later.”
Finley says the sixth amendment states everyone has the right to a speedy trial no matter how gross the charge may be or how many times the suspect has been arrested.
In Alabama, charges must be brought within 48 hours or a judge can't keep a criminal behind bars.
“If there's no charging document, if no one says I swear or affirm that this person did what they've done, I have nothing before me,” Finley said.
Finley says the missing piece, on paper, are these sworn complaints. However, he points to a larger issue continually keeping the public in danger - a lack of mental health resources.
“This person has a mental problem, what do we do with them? We can continue to arrest them. I can continue to sentence them. I can continue to hold him, but when you are talking about misdemeanor crimes, there's only so long that we can hold him.”
Finley tells NBC 15 News that Dunson is not the first criminal in and out of jail like this and he won't be the last if sworn complaints continue to go unsigned and more mental health options aren't available.