St. Louis man bailed out of jail by nonprofit hours before wife fatally beaten

A St. Louis man is accused of fatally beating his wife after being released from jail earlier in the day.

Samuel Lee Scott, 54, was reportedly charged with domestic assault in the fourth degree on April 5 in connection with an incident months prior.

Court documents state Scott struck Marcia Johnson, 54, on the right side of her face, causing pain to her ear and cheekbone, on Jan. 6. After allegedly hitting his wife, Scott reportedly told her that he “might as well finish what [he] started since [she] was going to contact the police.” After an officer responded to the area, Scott was placed as “wanted” for the domestic assault charge.

Scott was formally charged in the case on April 5 and served with an Ex Parte Order of Protection four days later, which prohibited him from being within 300 feet of his wife or from entering her home. The same day he was served with the Order of Protection, Scott’s bond was posted by the nonprofit St. Louis Bail Project and he was released from custody.

After being released, Scott allegedly went to Johnson’s home around 7:45 p.m. Less than four hours later, Johnson was taken to the hospital by a friend who saw blood coming from the woman’s head and body. Court records state Johnson was unconscious, had a broken eye socket, several broken ribs and was bruised from head-to-toe.

According to investigators, preliminary findings show Johnson died from blunt force trauma on April 14.

Two days after Johnson’s death, the Circuit Attorney’s Office said they had charged Scott with first-degree murder in connection with her death. Court records state that Scott admitted to striking his wife.

Following Johnson’s death and the murder charge against Scott, News 4 reached out to the nonprofit that posted his bail on April 9. Mike Milton, manager of The Bail Project’s St. Louis site, issued the following statement:

This is a heartbreaking tragedy for this family and their community, and our thoughts and prayers are with them. Nobody wants to see something like this happen, but it is crucial to remember that bail didn’t cause this tragedy — Mr. Scott, a 54-year-old father, was charged with a misdemeanor, and if he’d just been wealthy enough to afford his bail he would have been free in either case. Moments like this are devastating, but it’s important not to lose sight of the larger injustices of cash bail and the need for reform. The cash bail system poses tremendous risks to low-income communities and families when their members are being jailed simply because they are poor. At least five people died in St. Louis City jails in 2018 alone. Our program has provided bail assistance to over 1,300 low-income St. Louis residents to date and we have seen devastating impacts of pretrial jail firsthand.

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