ALEXANDRIA, Va. (FOX 5 DC) - Reaction tonight after FOX 5 has learned in Northern Virginia, specifically Alexandria City, there’s no system in place to track which inmates have been released due to concerns surrounding the coronavirus transmission.
This is the same jurisdiction where a young woman was murdered by a man accused of raping her. That man was released due to COVID-19 after being previously held without bond.
Without commenting on any specific case, a spokesperson for Alexandria says ultimately when it comes to jail releases because of COVID:
• The judge decides on a case-by-case basis
• No one is officially notating which inmates are being released based on COVID-19 risks
• And furthermore, there’s no requirement mandating inmate releases be classified as a release due to the coronavirus.
The city says the only way to know if someone was released due to the coronavirus pandemic would be to read the transcript of any bond hearing which still would not have to include the premise of the release.
This new information comes as two inmates across our area were released due to COVID-19 and then went on to allegedly commit murder.
Ibrahim Bouaichi, 33, reportedly raped, strangled, and abducted Karla Domingues back in October. She testified against him in December and he was in jail in Alexandria being held without bond when he was released in April due to Covid-19 concerns and safety measures in the jails. He’s accused of fatally shooting Dominguez on July 29.
In Montgomery County, Maryland, 26-year-old Justin Wilson was released from jail in April due to COVID-19 concerns and then reportedly went on to stab to death 63-year-old Edigio Lenzi late last month.
We talked with some Virginia residents today who were on the fence about keeping defendants awaiting trial locked up during the pandemic.
For crime victims wondering whether the suspect in their case may have been released for health reasons, now is a good time to contact the court, find out the status of the accused and connect with a victim’s advocate.
Many are concerned though they could not comment on these cases specifically.
What the victim's advocate can do is contact the court on your behalf and express your concerns or even fears.
Ultimately, we don’t know how many inmates have been released based on the COVID-19 argument attorneys are successfully making to judges.
FOX 5’s Tisha Lewis reports the in Alexandria City case the Commonwealth's Attorney was vehemently against this particular release.