A Nebraska inmate released on parole Friday was arrested hours later for allegedly shooting his girlfriend in Omaha. Antonio Hattix spent a year in jail on drug charges. The so-called “good time law” let him out early.
Another man is back in jail, though not for long. Critics of the good time law say it’s due to a flaw in the system.
Benny Valentine was a star athlete in Omaha who went on to play basketball for Hall of Fame coach Bobby Knight at Texas Tech. Last November, a former youth coach and current probation officer stood up for him in court and the judge gave the 25-year-old a major break on drug charges, no jail time.
But Channel 6 News found that three days after getting probation, Valentine went to Texas with a friend to rob a drug dealer. As he entered the patio of the man's home his partner, Chinedu Onyeuku of Omaha, was shot and killed. Valentine fled.
“It shows you time and again of how the system is flawed,” says John Wells of the Omaha Police Union. “This is another example, a person who is recycled in and out of the justice system. On paper they should serve, but they keep letting him back on the streets."
Valentine is currently in prison in Lincoln, not for the shooting or break-in, but for probation violation. He's eligible for parole in December. His projected release is March, not much of a penalty if you ask the police union. “It's not going to change until citizens stand up and tell the Legislature," says Wells.
Even after going on the run and being at the scene of a fatal shooting, Valentine still qualifies for the good time law, mandatory days dropped from a sentence. In this case it cuts six months out of his jail time.
In the Omaha case, Valentine was initially charged for gun possession, but that charge was dropped. Texas investigators aren't saying if they'll pursue charges.