Friday, Feb. 10, 2012
AUGUSTA, Ga. -- It's a turbulent case that has left two families torn apart and turned the Augusta Youth Development Campus on its head.
Michael Everidge maintained his innocence Friday morning in a fellow inmate's killing. Shackled and cuffed, he pleaded not guilty before the judge. Last week, he was indicted as an adult for felony murder and malice murder.
The 17-year-old was initially charged by the GBI days after Holder's fatal beating. Agents have not ruled out more arrests; the homicide investigation is still opened and may be turned over to the District Attorney's Office by the end of the month.
Ashley Wright's office will decide on any further indictments for other inmates.
The DJJ has already said several youths were in and out of the cell the night of Nov. 7 when Officer Marlon McCreary failed to lock the cell doors. He was fired because of it.
The captain of security that night, Victor Martin, was also later fired.
That beating has led to widespread allegations of employee misconduct from contraband to some officers and even a director engaging in sexual relationships with youths inside.
"Inappropriate relationships with these kids? I read one was even having sex with the children now. I don't believe this. You got the kids fighting for their lives but the adults walking away scot-free -- scot-free! I don't understand that. Something ain't right with that picture," proclaimed Michael Everidge's mother, Keiondra Everidge.
She is upset about the termination of 11 employees at Augusta's YDC, many of them leaders at the facility.
"Firing, Firing? They did crimes back there with these children and they should be charged," Keiondra explained. "But I have not seen one been charged. It's not right. If you see a criminal on the streets did the same thing as these people back there, they would be arrested. You tell me something ain't wrong with this situation, this whole case. Something is deeply wrong here and somebody need to get to the bottom of it."
Department of Juvenile Justice Commissioner Gale Buckner continues to investigate misconduct along with the GBI at the facility. News 12 has asked her about possible criminal charges, but she declined to comment citing the ongoing investigation
News 12 has been investigating the lack of criminal charges for alleged criminal misconduct by DJJ employees.
In the two years before Holder's beating, and before these 11 recent employee terminations, News 12 found 12 more cases where employees were fired for alleged contraband, child abuse, and yet another inappropriate relationship between a guard and a youth, but only one guard was ever charged.
The DJJ has yet to explain that to us, either.