News 12 First at Five / Tuesday, Nov. 29, 2011
AUGUSTA, Ga. -- Three weeks ago today, an Augusta Youth Development Campus inmate died after a beating inside his cell. Yet, the teen charged with Jade Holder's murder has yet to go before a judge for a bond hearing.
Only News 12's Lynnsey Gardner was there as the Department of Juvenile Justice made its first visit to suspect Michael Everidge's Augusta home.
As of Tuesday, Michael is in his fourth jail this month. His mother questions his well-being and News 12 took our growing list of questions about safety at the Augusta Youth Development Campus, where this all began, to the DJJ at her home last night.
News 12 reporter Lynnsey Gardner: "Hi, I'm Lynnsey Gardner with News 12. Are you with the Department of Juvenile Justice?"
Leon Butler, community case manager with the DJJ : "Yes."
Gardner: "Do you have any comment about Jade Holder's death?"
Butler: "Um. No. I was just here advising his mother that I will be monitoring him in Richmond County."
Monday night's visit was the DJJ's first trip to this mother's home. Keiondra Everidge's 17-year-old son Michael was charged 19 days before with murdering a fellow juvenile inmate.
Gardner: "Why the delay? It's been almost 20 days."
Butler: "I'm sorry I can't go further, I'm sorry."
Butler tells us he is Michael's community case manager for the DJJ. He says he's been at the DJJ seven years. He's now handling the first-ever juvenile inmate murder in Georgia, according to DJJ Commissioner Gale Buckner.
Gardner to Butler: "Now both mothers, Jade Holder's mother and Michael Everidge's mother, both believe DJJ failed their sons. What do you have to say to that?"
Butler: "I appreciate her grief and her suffering. But um ... I cannot make comments on questions of that nature. I'm not in a position to do that. I'm sorry."
Two days before Holder's beating, this incident report shows another Augusta YDC inmate was badly beaten inside a cell by five other inmates.
The DJJ hasn't told News 12 how Michael got into Holder's cell that night.
Butler: "My heart goes out to both families, the department to the community. Everybody is devastated as a result of this. It's not an us or them situation. Everybody is working together to bring about the best possible outcome despite the horrific outcome."
Gardner: " Are we going to see any changes?"
Butler: "As I said, I'm not in a position to comment on that level."
In this termination record obtained by an Open Records Request filed by News 12, the DJJ confirmed one guard, Marlon McCreary, was fired four days after Holder's beating.
Another employee, Cpt. Victor Martin, was suspended that same week as well. Martin is under investigation for "employee misconduct."
DJJ will not say if either matter is related to the homicide.
"You know what i really think about YDC? They need to close the doors," Keiondra said.
She says she's only been allowed one visit with her son since the murder. That visit was the day he missed his own bond hearing while under suicide watch at Augusta State Medical Prison.
"He's scared, he's worried. But he's not trying to kill himself. My child says, 'They're trying to make me say I'm going to kill myself.'"
"My child is not safe. My child life is in danger." Keiondra said. "There is more to this situation than they're telling the public."
Gardner took that concern to Butler.
"Do you feel Michael is in good care?" Gardner asked.
"I have faith and confidence in the system. I can't comment further," Butler replied.
"This is a tragedy all the way around," Keiondra said. "You have two mothers hurting and yet, DJJ still has no answers. Why is there no answers? Cover-up. That's why there's no answers."
Butler had not talked to Michael as of Monday night. He did say he was going to get in touch with him as soon as possible to make sure he was okay.
As for his mother, Keiondra says she is now fighting to get Michael in protective custody.
Michael's bond hearing is scheduled for this Friday.