Lack of available Detroit judges puts justice on hold for mother who lost 2 sons

Prosecution ready to try the case

DETROIT – A mother who lost both of her sons in April of 2017 has been waiting for justice ever since. 

Leda Watts' sons, Alex Stewart and Louis Phillips, were shot and killed back in April of 2017. Since then, the men charged in their deaths have been avoiding trial. 

"I think they could be a little more sensitive to the victims and the families who have to keep going through trials. Every time we go in court, I have to relive everything," said Watts. 

The case has a long history of adjournments, mostly stemming from legal issues that the defense needed to pursue. 

"The prosecution has always been ready to try the case. The prosecutor and the detectives on my case have worked very hard," said Watts. 

  • On Aug. 21, 2017, the prosecution asked for an adjournment because a spokesperson from the Wayne County Prosecutor's Office said a piece of evidence from police was not yet ready for trial.
  • The next trial date was set for Nov. 14, 2017, but it ended in a mistrial. 
  • On March 9, 2018, the cases involving the two suspects were consolidated into one. 
  • On March 12, 2018, the trial was canceled due to a competency issue involving the defendant. 
  • On Sept. 25, 2018 the trial was adjourned by the defense attorney. 
  • In Oct. 2018, the case was taken off of Judge Vonda Evans' docket and given to Judge Timothy Kenny. 
  • On Nov. 27, 2018, Judge Timothy Kenny decided he would not be able to handle the case, and said there were not enough judges available to try the case. 

The case has now been handed to a visiting judge. Retired Michael Hathaway will be filling in for the January trial date. 

"Their system needs to change on how they do things. They don't realize how much it takes out of a person to have to go relive that. It's not fair," said Watts. 

Judge Timothy Kenny told Local 4 "several judges are on medical leave and the other judges have full dockets." Kenny said it is a very unusual situation for a trial to be adjourned this many times. He said it will not happen again because they have solidified a visiting judge for the trial starting on Jan. 28, 2019. 

Watts is hoping she gets justice in her sons' deaths. 

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