Home News Illinois Prisoner Review Board official quits after parolee accused of killing boy

Illinois Prisoner Review Board official quits after parolee accused of killing boy

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A state parole official quit her post following her role in allowing a parolee with a history of violence against women to be released from state custody before, authorities say, he attacked a pregnant woman he once dated earlier this month and killed her 11-year-old son when the child came to her rescue.

LeAnn Miller resigned from the 13-member Illinois Prisoner Review Board after deciding the parolee, 37-year-old Crosetti Brand, should not go back to prison after he was accused of contacting his former girlfriend, the boy’s mother, Laterria Smith, when he was paroled in October in another domestic violence case.

When the board decided earlier this month against keeping Brand in prison for that separate case, authorities say he went to Smith’s Chicago residence on Mar. 13 and fatally stabbed her son, 11-year-old Jayden Perkins. Smith was stabbed during the attack but survived.

“The Prisoner Review Board must be able to operate independently as they review enormously difficult cases, but I believe LeAnn Miller has made the correct decision in stepping down from her role,” Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker said in announcing Miller’s resignation in a statement Monday. “It is clear that evidence in this case was not given the careful consideration that victims of domestic violence deserve and I am committed to ensuring additional safeguards and training are in place to prevent tragedies like this from happening again.”

Miller, a former school district administrator from southern Illinois, could not be reached for comment.

Miller’s resignation marks the latest controversy for this little-known board under the Pritzker administration. In 2022, Republican lawmakers criticized the governor for appointing board members who they felt were too lenient in granting parole to older people locked up in prison for decades after being convicted of particularly heinous crimes.

While Pritzker appoints board members, the state Senate in this instance rejected two of Pritzker’s appointments, both Democrats, while two of his other appointees, one Democrat and an independent, resigned before the Senate could reject them.

Miller, however, was appointed by the governor in September 2021 and later approved by the Senate, and was one of five Republicans on the current makeup of the review board.

Last week, Pritzker indicated that changes needed to be made in the ways that the court system, law enforcement agencies and the Prisoner Review Board communicate when dangerous criminals are released from prison.

“It’s an independent board and I do believe that they have the ability to make changes in the way that they communicate and I encourage them to do that, and certainly would work with anybody that will help us to accomplish that goal,” Pritzker said during an unrelated news conference on Mar. 18. “The entire matter is tragic.”

On Monday, the Pritzker administration said it asked the review board to work with “experts and advocates” to expand its training in handling domestic violence cases. Pritzker also directed the board and the Illinois Department of Corrections to review “the current rules and procedures for receiving information related to cases involving domestic violence” and to decide whether any changes are necessary.

“As the administration continues to review the facts in this case, it may pursue any broader statutory or policy changes needed to strengthen PRB’s review of similar cases moving forward,” the governor’s office said.

A photo of Jayden Perkins, a 11-year-old boy who was stabbed to death in his home on March 13, at a memorial on Friday, March 15, 2024, outside Perkin's home in Chicago. (Vincent Alban/Chicago Tribune)
A photo of Jayden Perkins, a 11-year-old boy who was stabbed to death in his home on March 13, at a memorial on Friday, March 15, 2024, outside Perkin’s home in Chicago. (Vincent Alban/Chicago Tribune)

On Mar. 12, Smith was on the phone with her mother for a usual morning check-in and was about to leave to take her sons, Jayden and a 5-year-old, to school, Cook County prosecutors said earlier this month before a judge ordered Brand held in custody. As Smith unlocked the door to leave, Brand forced his way inside and attacked her in the apartment in the 5900 block of North Ravenswood Avenue, prosecutors said.

Jayden “attempted numerous times to help his mother” and was stabbed in the process, prosecutor said. At one point, the woman locked herself in another room, prosecutors said, and Brand kicked the door repeatedly. When Smith opened the door, Brand had fled the apartment and had taken her cellphone.

Prosecutors said the woman, who was engaged to someone else, was in a romantic relationship with Brand more than 15 years ago. Brand has racked up multiple convictions for battering her, threatening her and her mother and violating orders of protections, court records show.

Brand came to the home Smith shared with her mother shortly after she broke up with him in 2006, waved a gun at them and threatened them. At one point, he fired the gun in their hallway before fleeing, according to a motion filed by prosecutors in an unrelated case seeking to admit past crimes.

Despite that order of protection, Brand continued to harass them over the next two years: He was accused of thowing rocks at their windows and calling them repeatedly. Brand approached Smith at her high school and tried to grab her twice over the following year, the motion alleged.

A full two years after the breakup, he punched her in the head at a bus stop while yelling about her dating other men, the motion alleged.

Brand also has convictions for battering other women. In 2013, Brand pleaded guilty to charges of domestic battery for punching a woman, who had ended a relationship with him, hard enough to knock her unconscious and leave her bleeding from the mouth. Before the physical confrontation, he told her, “I’m gonna blow your head off, you think you gonna leave that easy,” according to the motion.

Later, he was sentenced to 16 years in prison in a November 2015 attack on another woman, who had also ended a relationship with him, according to court documents. He also threatened her son when he tried to intervene.

Brand was released from prison on parole in October, prosecutors said, with a warning about an order of protection that barred him from approaching Jayden’s mother. Still, prosecutors said, he sent her a text message on Jan. 30 threatening her and her family and showed up at her apartment on Feb. 1.

He rang the doorbell multiple times and tried to pull the door handle out of the door, authorities said. The woman contacted the parole board, and he was sent back to prison, authorities said.

Though prosecutors indicated in court that there was already an active order of protection, court records show that Jayden’s mother sought an emergency order of protection against Brand after that incident, just weeks before the attack.

In her petition, she said Brand had attempted to break into her apartment Feb. 1. The day before, Brand had texted her threatening to kill her and her family, according to the petition. A disposition order shows that a judge dismissed the petition at 10:33 a.m. on the day she was attacked. The woman received an automated alert from the Department of Corrections informing her of Brand’s Mar. 12 release from prison, prosecutors said.

Early the next day, he showed up at the apartment again, prosecutors said, this time for a fatal attack.

The review board has so far declined to release records to the Tribune related to Brand’s release earlier this month. The newspaper sought those records through two open-records requests early last week.

But according to the Chicago Sun-Times, citing its own records request, Brand denied going to Smith’s residence and his attorney, during a Feb. 26 hearing before the board, said there wasn’t any proof that he went to the residence. The newspaper reported there wasn’t enough evidence for the review board to corroborate Smith’s claim that Brand tried to go to her residence.

According to the governor’s office, Miller conducted a hearing over whether Brand violated his parole when he allegedly went to Smith’s home last month and “prepared a draft order provided to a panel of two additional members for concurrence, as per PRB procedure.”



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