Woman Murdered After Nonprofit Posts Man’s Bail

Bail went from $5,000 to $1 million for a man who allegedly murdered his spouse shortly after a nonprofit posted his bail on a domestic violence case.

Samuel Lee Scott, 54, of Saint Louis, Mo., was arrested for domestic assault, a misdemeanor, after allegedly hitting his wife, Marcia Johnson and inflicting injuries to her face, ear and cheek bone. Scott was released from jail after the St. Louis Bail Project posted his bond.

That night he allegedly went to her home around 7:45 p.m. According to the office of St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kimberly M. Gardner, she was assaulted again resulting in “a broken eye socket, several broken ribs, and (bruises) from head to toe.” She died five days later.

The Bail Project is a national organization modeled after The Bronx Freedom Fund, which she co-founded by Robin Steinberg and David Feige in 2007. It expanded to St. Louis in January 2018 and has 13 offices, including a home base of Venice, Calif. Advisors to the organization include Richard Branson, founder of Virgin Group and entertainer John Legend.

Steinberg is also a Gilbert Foundation Senior Fellow of the Criminal Justice Program at UCLA School of Law where she works with faculty and students on bail reform initiatives and research.

Gardner announced that she plans to meet with the nonprofit’s leaders “to review their policies and practices to help them better understand the risks to victims and witnesses when posting bail for any type of domestic violence cases or for any defendant who is a potential safety risk to an individual or to the community.”

A spokesperson for The Bail Project did not return calls seeking comment. In a statement, Steinberg is quoted saying: “No one could have predicted this tragedy. It’s important to remember that had he been wealthy enough to afford his bail, or bonded out by a commercial bail bond agency, he would have been free pretrial as well. In times like this, we must come together for this family and keep sight of the need to transform the larger systems that create poverty, racism and violence, including the pretrial bail system.”