Family wonders why 'Caitlin's Law' wasn't enforced

By: Emi FitzGerald Email
By: Emi FitzGerald Email

A family is outraged that a law in their daughter's name did not help protect someone else. An investigation reveals that when a kidnapping suspect was recently arrested, he should not have been out on bond at all. Now he's accused of kidnapping again.

Even though Calvin Sterling is in jail for now, he was out on bond when police say he kidnapped his ex-girlfriend a second time.

A local family says law named for their loved one should have protected the victim. Cindy Wooten says when she heard about the kidnapping case in Durant, it hit close to home.

“It's as if Caitlin's death meant nothing to the district attorney's office," she says.

Cindy's referring to "Caitlin's law," passed in 2006. The law makes it tougher for suspects of dangerous crimes to be released on bond. It’s named for Cindy's step-daughter Caitlin Wooten who was killed in 2005.

Authorities say she was abducted in broad daylight. Her attacker, Jerry Don Savage, was out on bond after kidnapping Caitlin's mother days before. Cindy Wooten says she's upset Calvin Sterling was able to post bond after police say he kidnapped his ex-girlfriend. ‘Caitlin's Law’ states a prosecutor has to show the suspect is a threat to the public if out on bond.

Bryan County District Attorney Emily Redman says District Judge Trace Sherill initially asked for "no-bond" for Sterling's role in a September 27th kidnapping.

Redman says Sterling hired a defense attorney, and no previous record, so an assistant district attorney agreed to give Sterling an $11,000 bond. Sterling was prohibited from contacting the victim or setting foot in Bryan County, as conditions of the bond.

"We believed, on the basis of the information we had at that time, that the safety of the public and specifically the alleged victim could be insured by the condition of that bond and obviously we were wrong about that," Redman said.

The victim says the September 27th incident was the second kidnapping, not the first. She says Sterling took her at knife point to Tishomingo. She filed a police report and a protective order, but no arrests were made. He was not charged until a second incidient, when police say he kidnapped her and took her to Denton, Texas.

He posted bond for the Denton kidnapping, then days later police say he kidnapped her a third time. They say he broke into their family’s home, and forced her to go to Tishomingo. Authorities say he sexually assaulted her in a tent in the woods behind his home.

The victim says Sterling would wait until her mother left for work in the mornings before approaching her. She repeatedly told him to away, but he used a knife one time, a bb gun the next, and kept hitting her the third. Each abduction happened mid-morning, in broad daylight. The victim told KXII she hopes Sterling receives some help so he doesn’t hurt anyone else the way he has hurt her and her family.

Cindy Wooten says they plan to work tirelessly, making sure ‘Caitlin’s Law’ is enforced strictly.

"This is Caitlin's legacy. I want to make sure it doesn't go unheeded."


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