Judge Sets Murder Suspect Free On Bond

April 6, 2007

A Buckingham County judge let a man facing capital murder charges free on bond and hours later Charlottesville police picked him up.

Authorities in Buckingham believe Claude Booker is one of three men who brutally killed a man in March. He was arrested, charged with six felonies and a judge set him free Wednesday.

The judge wasn't aware there was a parole violation issued against Booker. It was filed days before he was released but somehow never served. With that order outstanding, Charlottesville police picked up Booker just hours after authorities in Buckingham let him go.

"He was quite surprised he was being taken back into custody because he had already been released on a capital murder charge" said Captain Chip Harding, Charlottesville Police.

Buckingham authorities believe Booker and two other men are responsible for the shooting death of Clarence Austin on March 9th. A judge could find those murder charges violate Booker's parole and potentially he could face four years of a suspended sentence on a previous robbery conviction.

"He has a violent history. He has pulled time in the penitentiary. He has assaulted our police officers. He has eluded our police officers when we have attempted to arrest him. We consider him a violent prone individual" said Harding.

Now the question we couldn't get authorities in Buckingham to answer today was why was Booker freed? According to court documents Booker got out of prison last year and was arrested several times even before he was charged with murder, but never accused of violating his parole.

Booker is next scheduled to appear in court on May 18th. It will then be up to a judge whether or not to hold him for violating his probation.

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