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Mecklenburg DA: 'There is public interest' in keeping murder suspects asking for bond in jail

Over 100 murder suspects are awaiting trial in Mecklenburg County. Some have been in jail over 2 years. As cases get weaker, there are concerns they'll be released.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Some murder suspects in Mecklenburg County have been awaiting trial for more than two years because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Now, some are asking to be released on bond because of the delay. 

The requests to release potentially dangerous individuals concern District Attorney Spencer Merriweather, as well as the families of victims who are angry about delayed justice. 

Mecklenburg County's court system was already backed up and lacking resources before COVID-19 hit and it's only getting worse. Now it appears defendants are using the coronavirus as an excuse to try to bond out of jail. 

Clydia Davis' son, Donqwavias Davis, better known to her as "Quay," was killed in May of 2019. He was shot three times at an apartment complex near UNC Charlotte

"I can hardly believe it's already been two-and-a-half years," Davis said. "I just wait every day, hoping my baby's gonna walk through that door."

Javier Concepcion-Perez, the man accused of shooting Davis, was arrested just days after the crime. He's been sitting in jail ever since. 

"The pain is so deep," Davis said. "With losing such a soul in Donqwavias, and having to wonder what's going to happen to his murderer."

Earlier this month, attorneys for Concepcion-Perez asked for another bond hearing. That motion was granted by a judge, and in just a few weeks, Concepcion-Perez will be asking to be released on bond. His trial date still hasn't been set. 

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Davis says she's angry. Merriweather has his own concerns about what could happen next. 

"It's certainly not in the interest of the D.A.'s office to see people who are rightly accused of violent felonies to be released from custody pre-trial," he said. "We believe these are folks, there is a public interest in making sure they're held until trial."

The courts were shut down for 16 months. In the six months since reopening, they've only been able to do one trial at a time. That means cases are getting older — and harder to try — by the day, and that means prosecutors could potentially be offering plea deals where they might not have done so without the delay. 

"The work of a prosecutor means taking a look at the strengths and weaknesses of every case," Merriweather said. "We also recognize that as cases get older, cases get weaker and witnesses get harder to find. We're doing our best to withstand those challenges."

Right now, there are 113 suspects charged with murder awaiting trial in Mecklenburg County. There are an additional 139 special victims trials pending. Those include rapes, domestic violence and sexual offenses against children. 

Merriweather says Mecklenburg County was behind the eight ball even before the pandemic. He's been pressing the state for more resources to speed things up. 

"We're going to need to increase those resources, exponentially, in order to make up the ground we've lost in the course of the last few years," he said. 

For Davis, time is moving in slow motion. 

"It's almost like whoever said time heals all wounds, they made a mistake," David said, crying. "It gets worse. I've never been this long without him."

Contact Michelle at mboudin@wcnc.com and follow her on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.

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