Cumberland County Sheriff Kevin Joyce railed against a decision by court and police officials in Louisiana to release a murder suspect on bail to his parents’ home in Maine without notifying law enforcement here.

Joyce held a news conference Wednesday afternoon to express concerns about Benjamin Shaw, 21, who is accused of fatally stabbing Zechariah Casagranda, 34, of Bossier City, Louisiana, outside a Louisiana nightclub on Jan. 24.

Joyce’s office was first notified of Shaw’s possible return to Maine on Feb. 19, when Shaw’s attorney reached a Cumberland County sheriff’s sergeant at about 5:30 p.m., after business hours. A week later, the Bossier Parish Sheriff’s Office contacted the same sergeant to confirm Shaw’s relocation with Maine authorities.

“It appears, and it’s my opinion only, that this is a slide job,” Joyce said. “We’re going to slide this guy into Naples hoping that nobody really knows and we’ll let the sheriff’s office, on the night shift, know so they can check on him once a week.”

Calls to the Bossier parish district attorney’s office were not immediately returned Wednesday.

Bill Davis, a spokesman for the Bossier sheriff’s office, said he was not aware about Shaw’s release, the concerns it raised in Maine or Joyce’s phone conversation with Shaw’s attorney, but said he would inquire about the dust-up.


Shaw’s bail was set at $500,000, and Shaw returned to Maine on the conditions that he remain in Cumberland County, not possess knives or weapons, meet with a deputy once a week, stay away from the victim’s family, and give up his passport pending the outcome of the case.

Joyce said he was concerned about how Shaw was released, noting that murder suspects in Maine are rarely granted bail, let alone released out of state. He said he was also concerned that Shaw was allowed to travel so far from the jurisdiction where the killing took place, potentially giving him a head start if he were to flee.

In a news release handed out at the Wednesday news conference, Joyce also said, “The bail conditions are weak and I am unclear on our legal authority to enforce any violations.”

He said the notification should have come from the Bossier Parish sheriff’s office, not Shaw’s attorney.

Joyce said he was irate and spoke with the Bossier Parish Sheriff, Julian C. Whittington, about 9 p.m. Tuesday, but he did not say Wednesday whether he was satisfied with that conversation.

“The bad guys communicate very well,” he said. “And this is just another case where law enforcement has got to get better with how they communicate with other law enforcement offices.”


Shaw’s father, Joe Shaw, a real estate broker in the lakes region, declined to comment Wednesday afternoon on the circumstances of his son’s release.

“You’ll have to talk to my attorney,” Joe Shaw said, then hung up the phone.

According to the Shreveport Times newspaper, Shaw has been charged with second-degree murder in connection with the death of Casagranda, who was stabbed in a bar parking lot. Casagranda was a member of the U.S. Air Force assigned to Barksdale Air Force Base, and the bar was a popular watering hole for service men and women.

Shaw has no criminal record in Maine, according to the Maine State Bureau of Investigation.

Shaw’s attorney is Jose Baez, who was also the lead attorney for Casey Anthony, the Florida woman who was accused of murdering her child, Caylee. A jury acquitted Anthony of murder.


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