DETROIT (WXYZ) — Just over six months ago, Takeisha Williams was shot and killed at a home on Vanughan Street in Detroit.
She was at a party, her family says, when she and Danique Golder got into an argument.
“There was a misunderstanding and she shot my daughter in the head,” said Takeisha's mother Felicia. “She died while I was kissing her face, holding her hand, begging her not to leave me.”
Golder was charged with second degree homicide and pled not guilty.
There will never be a pain worse than losing her daughter’s life. But nearly as devastating, her mother says, was when she learned that Golder still had her freedom.
“It’s hard for me to accept that my daughter isn’t here anymore and the young lady that shot her— (in) cold blood in her forehead—is out here walking around, living a normal life with an ankle bracelet,” her mother said.
Golder’s bond was set by 36th District Court Judge Kenneth King, who said by phone that he placed the defendant on a $250,000 cash/surety bond with a tether following a recommendation from pre-trial services, who reviewed Golder’s background. Golder is to remain at home and has permission to work.
Golder’s attorney declined comment, citing the pending criminal case.
Becoming more common
It was once rare for men and women facing homicide charges to be out on tether, but police and prosecutors complain it is happening more today.
Records obtained through the Wayne County Sheriff’s Office show that, as of September, 47 defendants charged with homicide countywide were released on electronic tethers.
They include a defendant charged with killing and robbing a man back in March, a woman accused of running over her girlfriend in the fall of 2020 and a man accused of gunning down his girlfriend—a Detroit police Sergeant—in 2019.
Because these men and women have not been convicted of the crimes they’re accused of, it is Channel 7’s general policy not to show you their mugshots.
SaThey include the man accused of killing 26-year-old Sherard Youngblood.
“My son bled out in the sidewalk on the streets,” his mother told us. “He bled to death.”
His mother agreed to talk to us, but only if we agreed not to show her face.
In May of 2020, Youngblood was gunned down on Minock Street in Detroit, according to prosecutors, after an argument turned violent.
“All I know is that the doctor told me that Sherard got shot eight times,” his mother said.
The man police and prosecutors say pulled the trigger, Joshua Ragland, was charged with first degree homicide and felony firearm.
Initially given no bond, months later Judge Ronald Giles lowered it to $50,000 10%.
Ragland was placed on a GPS tether. He’s been out of jail since the spring of last year.
Youngblood’s mother learned of Ragland’s release when she got a phone call at the grocery store.
“It just felt like someone took a knife and stabbed me in my chest,” she said. “I could not breathe, literally, when I got the news.”
Court transcripts show that, in his police interview, Ragland admitted to sitting in the back of the SUV that pulled up to Youngblood moments before he was killed. In court, a witness said the gunfire began only after that SUV’s back window was lowered.
But Ragland has pleaded not guilty and, in court, his attorney Gabi Silver has raised doubts about witness credibility.
She stresses that Ragland has shown up to court for more than 18 months without facing any new charges. Judge Giles, who put Ragland on a GPS tether, did not return our requests for comment.
A matter of fairness
While homicide defendants out on bond makes victims’ families furious, criminal defense attorneys applaud the trend and call it a matter of fairness.
Attorney Todd Perkins has argued successfully to keep clients accused of homicide out on bond pending trial and, last year, won a unanimous decision at the court of appeals that set a new precedent.
“There are people who do want that pound of flesh…at the front end,” Perkins said.
But too often, he says murder cases that seem like slam dunks can fall apart at trial once questions of self-defense and witness credibility are introduced.
“If you get your pound of flesh at the front end, who’s there at the back end to tell an individual who’s been found guilty: I’m sorry,” Perkins asked.
“Who’s there to make up for the job that they might have lost or the home that they’ve lost, having been found not guilty?”
The fate of those 47 homicide defendants donning tethers will ultimately be decided by a judge or jury.
For the family members who’ve lost loved ones, like Takeisha Williams’ mother, every day they wait for a verdict is a day they suffer.
“It’s the longest six months and three days I’ve ever endured in all my life,” she said.
Contact 7 Investigator Ross Jones at firstname.lastname@example.org or at (248) 827-9466.