Judge presiding over LSU student's attack makes unprecedented decision, prompting questions about conflicts


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The Louisiana judge presiding over a high-profile criminal case accusing Black men of raping a White LSU student dismissed a 1972 rape conviction a year after she released a different rape suspect on reduced bail. 

District Judge Gail Horne Ray’s decisions, coupled with her son’s serial rape conviction and her potential bias as a lifetime member of the NAACP, has raised concerns about conflicts of interest. 

Ray took her oath of office as a 19th Judicial District Court judge Jan. 12, 2023. Three months later, she released De’Aundre Cox, who was accused of raping his preteen neighbor, without alerting the victim or notifying the district attorney’s office. 

This month, she dismissed Donald Ray Link’s 1972 conviction for aggravated rape, which hadn’t even been requested by Link’s lawyers. 

‘LAUGHING’ SUSPECT IN LSU STUDENT’S ALLEGED RAPE RECORDS ATTACK: ‘THEY FINNA RAPE HER’

Madison-Brooks

Madison Brooks, 19, was a LSU sophomore when she was allegedly raped in January 2023 before she was fatally struck by a car. (Ashley Baustert)

Link, who was serving a lifetime sentence, appeared before Judge Ray last month to request eligibility for parole. 

Instead, she vacated the 50-year-old conviction because the jury was given “improper instructions” during the trial, which she called a “glaring error,” WAFB reported based on court filings. 

SUSPECT IN LSU STUDENT ATTACK CLAIMS VICTIM’S ROMANTIC HISTORY ‘CRUCIAL’ TO DEFENSE

The unprecedented, unprompted decision bypassed the parole process and again set up another confrontation between the judge and East Baton Rouge District Attorney Hillar Moore III, who took issue with reducing Cox’s bail last April. 

Moore argued the judge had access to limited evidence to determine whether Link should get parole and said this defense was already presented in the early 1990s and rejected, WAFB reported. 

Judge Gail Horne Ray

Judge Gail Horne Ray, who is presiding over the rape case involving LSU sophomore Madison Brooks, made an unprompted, unprecedented decision to vacate a 1972 rape conviction during the defendant’s hearing to request parole eligibility.  (Headshot for State of Louisiana district court judge)

WATCH: MADISON BROOKS WOULD HAVE BEEN 21 — MOM’S TRIBUTE VIDEO:

“Ultimately, the trial court relies on its ‘inherent authority’ to reach its decision,” DA Moore wrote in his court filing, according to WBRZ. “The fact remains that the trial court does not possess the inherent authority to ignore proper legal procedures and consider whatever it wants, whenever it wants.”

‘THERE’S A REAL HUMAN COST’ AS COLLEGE RAPE SURVIVOR PUT HERSELF IN THE SPOTLIGHT FOR JUSTICE

The Louisiana Supreme Court ordered a stay in this dispute, which essentially paused any action until the U.S. Supreme Court makes a ruling. 

DA Moore III and Judge Ray didn’t return Fox News Digital’s various calls and emails requesting comment. 

Judge Ray was asked specific questions, including whether she thought her decision-making could be clouded or whether she considered recusing herself from the case. 

mugshots of three of the suspects in Madison Brooks' case, and photo of Madison Brooks

Pictured, from left to right: Kaivon Washington, Everett Lee, Casen Carver and Madison Brooks.  (East Baton Rouge Sheriff’s Office/Instagram)

Desmond Carter

Desmond Carter, 17, is being tried as an adult in the alleged rape of LSU sophomore Madison Brooks. (East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff’s Office)

The judge and East Baton Rouge’s DA are the presiding judge and lead prosecutor, respectively, in the alleged rape of 19-year-old LSU sophomore Madison Brooks, which captured national attention last year. 

She was allegedly raped by four suspects — Kaivon Washington, Everett Lee, Casen Carver and Desmond Carter — in their car after a night of drinking at a bar in Tigerland, which is LSU’s social hub notorious for crime, poor lighting and no sidewalks. 

AS LSU REELS FROM MADISON BROOKS’ ALLEGED RAPE AND DEATH, CRIME TORMENTS COLLEGE TOWN

After the alleged attack in their car, the suspects reportedly left Brooks, who was stumbling and drunk, on the side of a busy four-lane highway in the middle of the night. 

She was hit by a car and died from her injuries despite efforts by two good Samaritans to help her.

Madison Brooks heroes stand close together as they pose for a photo

Kathryn Devillier and Beau Adams in Baton Rouge May 16, 2023. The 21-year-old roommates are credited with prolonging the last moments of Madison Brooks’ life by performing CPR after she was hit by a car. (KR/Mega for Fox News Digital)

Madison Brooks heroes with matching tattoos of angel wings on their arms

Close-ups of tattoos on the arms of Kathryn Devillier and Beau Adam. The matching tattoos honor Madison Brooks, whose life these 21-year-old roommates are credited with prolonging in her last moments after she was hit by a car. (KR/Mega for Fox News Digital)

The suspects’ lawyers, some of whom are civil rights attorneys, claimed there was a racist undertone in the prosecution’s fierce pursuit of high-level charges against Black men accused of raping a woman following public outcry. 

The case turned into a public spectacle within weeks of Brooks’ death, when the defense leaked multiple, seconds-long snippets of video footage that painted Brooks in a bad light. 

EXCLUSIVE: LSU STUDENTS DID EVERYTHING THEY COULD TO SAVE MADISON BROOKS

A few months later, one of the defense lawyers leaked Brooks’ autopsy report, which included disturbing, intimate details of the alleged rape. 

After race entered the public conversation, it is noteworthy that Judge Ray is a Silver Life member of the NAACP and received the Justice for Youth Award from the Juvenile Justice Project of Louisiana and the President’s Award from the Baton Rouge NAACP.

Madison-Brooks-cheerleader

Madison Brooks, a 19-year-old LSU sophomore, was allegedly raped in January before being fatally struck by a car. (Ashley Baustert)

Ashley Baustert, mother of Madison Brooks, stands in front of a billboard for the Madison Brooks Foundation

Ashley Baustert, mother of Madison Brooks, stands in front of a billboard for the Madison Brooks Foundation in Times Square May 8, 2023. (Julia Bonavita/Fox News Digital )

She was also her son’s lawyer when he pleaded guilty to several rapes between November 1995 and April 1996. 

EXCLUSIVE: LSU DEATH: MADISON BROOKS’ LAST TEXT TO MOM, WHO ‘KNEW SOMETHING TERRIBLE HAPPENED’

All this, at the very least, may create poor optics in an already controversial criminal case and stoke angst among Brooks’ family. 

The family lawyer declined to comment, for now, as the family awaits the state Supreme Court’s ruling in Link’s case. 

Updated photo LSU student Madison Brooks

LSU student Madison Brooks, who was fatally hit by a car after an alleged rape. (The Brooks family)

All the suspects arrested and charged in Brooks’ attack have pleaded not guilty and maintained their innocence. 

Their lawyers have argued the sex was consensual and went as far as saying this would not even be a criminal case if Brooks did not die.

One of the suspects’ lawyers, Joe Long, told Fox News Digital earlier this week the case is “moving slowly … mainly because the prosecution is fighting the defense’s access to evidence at every turn.”

Carver and Carter are scheduled to appear July 2 in court, which will be closed to the public because of the sensitive nature of the subject, Long said.

During the court appearance, Long expects to get access to Brooks’ phone data.

Security footage of a young woman walking behind four men in a busy parking lot.

Madison Brooks is seen leaving Reggie’s Bar in Tigerland with four men in Baton Rouge Jan. 15, 2023. The security footage provides the last images of Brooks before she was fatally struck by a car. 

Security footage of a young woman walking behind four men in a busy parking lot.

Madison Brooks is seen leaving Reggie’s Bar in Tigerland with four men in Baton Rouge, Jan. 15, 2023. The security footage is the last sighting of Brooks before she was fatally struck by a car. 

“After this hearing, the defense expects to get into the blood alcohol data and challenge the blood alcohol content at the time of the alleged sexual contact,” Long said. 

Prosecutors said her blood alcohol was .319%, which the defense intends to challenge. The legal limit for drivers in Louisiana is .08%.

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“Under Louisiana (law), the state must prove that MB (Madison Brooks) could not legally consent to sex because of a stupor brought on by alcohol intoxication. Stupor is a medical term,” Long said.

“We look forward to litigating this issue in the fall. We ask the public for patience and to withhold judgment as we are under a protective order and cannot share the information we have until trial.”



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