Bond denied, increased for suspects in Baxley restaurant assault

BAXLEY, GA (WTOC) - The suspects in a violent, viral assault at a chicken restaurant in Baxley were in front of a superior court judge Tuesday afternoon.

The pair is facing charges of aggravated assault and cruelty to children in the attack.

No bond was granted to Eric Smith and an increased bond was granted for LaTasha Smith for their roles in a brutal beating at a Baxley chicken restaurant.

"I cannot make the findings that I'm required to make in order to release him on bond at this time," said Superior Court Judge Anthony Harrison.

Judge Harrison denied bond for Eric Smith because of his previous and "significant" criminal record.

Smith took the stand Tuesday during the hearing, saying he has a history of both physical and mental illness.

"Psychosis because I hear and see things other people don't," Smith said.

Along with depression, bipolar disorder, and diabetes. Smith said he was taking medication for all of his conditions on June 22 when he and his wife, LaTasha Smith, were caught on video assaulting Janette Norris and her 15-year-old daughter.

Baxley Police Chief James Godfrey says watching that video is still disconcerting.

"Really, it's unnerving to watch the brutality of what happened. As we just heard, the gentle man had issues. Yeah, well, we knew that when we saw the video," Chief Godfrey said.

The judge gave LaTasha Smith a $25,000 bond, instead of the $10,000 her attorney asked for, for her role in the attack.

Chief Godfrey says he's content with the decisions.

"For something like this to happen, especially to have it on video that you can see, is unbelievable," he said. He says this bond hearing is the first step toward moving past the assault and hopes the case moves quickly.

"The quicker we can get it to court, the quicker we can get through with it. The quicker we can have closure, the victims can have closure and the whole community can kind of move on," Chief Godfrey said.

The next step is to present the case to a grand jury.

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