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'It's a tragedy': The Bail Project responds to deadly crash caused by man helped by nonprofit

Michael Dewitt had been released from jail in February after the nonprofit posted his $5,000 bail for another arrest.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Michael Dewitt, 28, faces charges of murder after police said he killed a teenage girl while driving on the wrong side of the road Monday night.

According to The Bail Project, Dewitt had been released from jail in February after the nonprofit posted his $5,000 bail for another arrest.

"The very first thing I want to do is on behalf of The Bail Project offer our sincere condolences to Ms. Troutt's family," Bail Project Midwest regional director Matthew McFarland said. "Obviously hindsight is 20/20. We don't have the luxury of seeing into the future, and of course if we did, things would be different."

Dewitt faces several charges, including murder and driving while under the influence of a controlled substance.

LMPD detectives said Dewitt was driving a stolen truck the wrong way on Dixie Highway when he hit a car driven by 17-year-old Madelynn Troutt, a student at Butler High School. Police said Dewitt tried running away but was held by witnesses until officers arrived. Troutt died later at a hospital.

Dewitt was last arrested Feb. 16 when police said he stole a vehicle. He was charged with receiving stolen property, assault of a probation officer, resisting arrest, trespassing, disorderly conduct and public intoxication, according to an arrest report. In the report, Dewitt admitted to detectives that he had taken heroin and other substances earlier that day.

McFarland said The Bail Project gets referrals from public defenders, sheriff's offices and other people in communities when it comes to certain cases. He said people working with The Bail Project meet with people in prison to determine whether they would benefit from the nonprofit's services, which include posting bail up to $5,000 and connecting them with resources once they are released.

According to McFarland, the client support specialist assigned to Dewitt's case said he did have a safe place to stay and transportation to and from his scheduled court hearings.

He said The Bail Project considered Dewitt as someone who could be helped by getting him connected to substance abuse treatment resources and agreed to post his bond after he completed the jail's detox program.

"All the indicators pointed towards Mr. Dewitt sincerely wanting help with his substance abuse issues," he said. "Nothing in Mr. Dewitt's background led us to believe that something as tragic as this would have happened."

McFarland said The Bail Project also had set him up with a substance abuse recovery center, which he was supposed to report to following his release from jail. He said a client support specialist will usually check in with the client and treatment provider about a week after release.

"Unfortunately in this case, that would have been happening this week, and before we were able to circle back, this very tragic incident happened," he said.

McFarland said the majority of the people helped by The Bail Project see positive results and addressing the issues surrounding addiction and substance abuse often keep people out of the justice system. It's a story he's seen played out many times, including in his own life.

"I am a recovering heroin addict. I myself cycled in and out of the criminal justice system before I was able to find treatment, and that treatment came via intervention in the criminal justice system while I was in jail for a drug-related charge," he said. "Because of that intervention, I recently in December celebrated five years sober. I won custody of my daughter. I bought a house. My life is completely different. And we would have hoped for the same exact thing for Mr. Dewitt."

While McFarland said most cases do not end in tragedy, The Bail Project is not taking this development lightly. He said the nonprofit is looking into possible policy changes, including shortening the time between a person's release and when the client support specialist checks in with the treatment provider.

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