MURDER USA: Release by District Court Judge Andrea Watkins Allowed Killer Robert Russell Loose to Finish the Job of Murdering his Ex-Girlfriend

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Did Maryland’s Judicial Pandemic Hysteria
to Reduce Rate of Incarceration Lead to the Murder of Rachel Rae Africa?

UPDATE: “Rachel Africa was my sister & the court systems failed her! Robert should not have been let out & should have been charged with attempted murder but the charges were dropped to a less severe charge & he was allowed out. The same officer who arrested him had to find my sister dead days later in the same room. I just had the viewing for my sister today & she looked absolutely horrible! No makeup could cover all the severe bruising on her face, neck & chest. I could see fingerprints still on her chest from where he held her down. I am disgusted that he was allowed to be let out. I hope this keeps her up at night because her son now does not have a mother & just had the worst birthday of his life being she was murdered a few days before! I will be looking into this further & feel as though I may need to obtain a lawyer to fight for my sister.”
Faythe Africa-Ward

News and Commentary

By Ken Rossignol

THE CHESAPEAKE TODAY

LA PLATA, MD. The failure of two Maryland District Court Officials to keep a dangerous man behind bars after severely beating a Waldorf woman in an outrageous case of domestic violence, combined with the hysterical political decisions of Maryland politicians to empty out jails and avoid making arrests that can lead to more inmates, may have led directly to her death.

On March 28 at 1:37 p.m., Charles County Sheriff’s Department patrol officers responded to the Super 8 motel in the 3500 block of Crain Highway in Waldorf for the report of a death investigation.

Charles County Sheriff Troy Berry reported that a preliminary investigation revealed a motel employee entered the room to check on the occupants who were scheduled to check out earlier in the day and found a man and a woman were found deceased.

The male was later identified as Robert Ralph Russell Jr., 47, (DOB 07/12/1972) of 4362 Deep Cove Landing, King George, Va. The woman was identified as Rachel Rae Africa, 39, of Waldorf.

An autopsy was performed on March 29 at the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner in Baltimore. Africa’s death was ruled a homicide and Russell’s death was ruled a suicide.

Detectives are working to establish a motive; however, there was recent history of domestic violence in which Russell was charged with assaulting Africa on March 22, 2020. He was arrested but released on personal recognizance on March 25.

District Court Judge Andrea Watkins apparently failed to read the serious assault and felony charges placed against Russell and let him out of jail without posting bond and he subsequently murdered Africa.

Russell was arrested by Charles County Sheriff’s Department Officer Elizabeth McGill on March 24, 2020, and taken to the Charles County Jail where a District Court Commissioner initially ordered him held without bail for the felony charge of theft between $1,500 and $25,000, misdemeanor charges of false imprisonment, second-degree assault, and theft under $1,500.  The following day, on March 25, 2020, District Court Judge Andrea Watkins released Russell on his own recognizance without bond in spite of the horrific description on charging documents of Russell tying up, beating and brutalizing Africa.

 Charles County Officer McGill stated in charges provided to the District Court Commissioner and made part of the case file on the bench in front of Judge Andrea Watkins, that on March 23, 2020, at approximately 7 pm, that she met with Rachel Rae Africa at her residence in Waldorf. She said that her ex-boyfriend, defendant Robert Ralph Russell Jr. tried to kill her the night before at the Super 8 Motel located on Rt. 301 in Waldorf.

Officer McGill reported that Africa told her that she went to visit Robert Ralph Russell Jr. in room 304 at the Super 8 Motel on March 22, 2020. 

Africa told the officer that Russell declared to her that he wanted to die and was going to swallow a bottle of pills, which apparently, he had already taken, therefore, she assisted him in vomiting to remove the pills. When she attempted to call 911 to get him assistance, Russell destroyed her iPhone, “making it unusable”. Africa told the officer that at that point, Russell attempted to hang himself at which time she pulled the belt away from him and “angering him.”

“The victim said he was behind her, on the bed, pulling the cord tight around her neck. While strangling her he stated that they were both going to die tonight. The victim stated she thought she was going to die.”

In his fury directed to the victim Africa, Russell then began punching her in the face and mouth with his closed fist, causing her lip to split open and bleed profusely, causing a cut to her left eye and bruising to the left side of her head.  “After he punched her, he bound her feet and hands behind her while she was on the bed and started to scream.” Then, he stuffed a sock into her mouth and pushed it down her throat and tried to strangle her with a ten-foot-long phone charging cord.

“The victim said he was behind her, on the bed, pulling the cord tight around her neck. While strangling her he stated that they were both going to die tonight. The victim stated she thought she was going to die.”

“The victim was able to pull the cord away from her neck and she said the defendant suddenly stopped and said he could not believe he just tried to kill her. The victim said she wanted to leave, and he told her to lie down on the bed. He then pushed her down and told her to lay with him. She tried to get up and leave two more times and the defendant pushed her down each time and began to get angry again. The victim said she remained next to the defendant until the morning, fearful he would harm her further.”

Officer McGill further related in the charges against Russell but ignored by Judge Watkins who released him from jail to finish what he had started.
“The victim was still wearing the sweatshirt she had on during the assault. I observed blood on the shirt around her neck and on the shoulder. I observed bruises to her head, a cut to her left eye, and her lip was split in two places. The corner of her mouth was still swollen and also cut on the inside of her mouth. The victim’s neck had a red ligature mark still remaining. The victim said her entire body hurt and her throat hurt when she swallowed.”

THE CHESAPEAKE TODAY All Crime All The Time

With a solid record of theft in his background, Russell then robbed his ex-girlfriend of $200 in cash and over $9,000 worth of jewelry.

“After the victim left the hotel and got home, she discovered that $9,065 worth of her jewelry and $200 in cash was missing from her purse. The defendant was the only other person in the hotel room and her property was in her purse. She believes he took the items from her purse while she was sleeping.”

THE CHESAPEAKE TODAY – ALL CRIME ALL THE TIME – Copyright 2020

The victim and defendant were previously in an intimate relationship for a year and do not reside together. The victim stated the defendant had been using crack cocaine and alcohol the entire day and night.

Three days later, Africa was murdered by Russell who then eliminated himself from a presence on the earth by the use of his own hands.

Three days later, Africa was murdered by Russell who then eliminated himself from a presence on the earth by the use of his own hands.

Robert-Ralph-Russell-Jr.–murdered-Rachel-Ray-Africa-in-2020-in-Waldorf.-

Criminal record going back twenty years in three counties includes burglary, theft from his father, harassment of other female acquaintances and a divorce

THE CHESAPEAKE TODAY – ALL CRIME ALL THE TIME – Copyright 2019

In 2015, Russell was charged by Baltimore County Police Officer L. P. Swiger with three counts of drug and paraphernalia associated with heroin use and was acquitted of the charges in Baltimore County District Court.

On Dec. 9, 2014, Robert Ralph Russell Jr. was convicted of felony theft in Baltimore County District Court in a plea deal with the Baltimore County States Attorney.  Russell had been living on Fenor Road in Halethorpe, Md., for several years, racking up various traffic and criminal offenses including a burglary conviction in 2005.

Robert Ralph Russell sold the home in which Robert Ralph Russell Jr. lived on Fenor Road on April 5, 2018, for $161,000. The property was purchased in 1975 when Russell Jr., was three years of age.

Jennifer Leslie Kocourek Russell filed for an absolute divorce from Richard Ralph Russell on Feb. 3, 2003, and was granted the divorce in Baltimore County Circuit Court on Nov. 22, 2003, and visitation was ordered by the court for a child on Sept. 2, 2004, and an order to restore the maiden name of Jennifer Russell on Jan. 28, 2016.

Russell was convicted of second-degree assault on April 17, 2002, in Anne Arundel County District Court when he got a plea deal from the Anne Arundel County States Attorney. THE DEAL: Russell was sentenced to 18 months in jail with 12 months suspended.  In that assault arrest, Russell was initially released on his own recognizance on Feb. 22, 2002, held on bond set by a District Court Judge on July 1, 2002, and released again on his own recognizance on July 23, 2002, and committed to jail on Feb. 19, 2003.

Charges of theft and burglary placed against Russell by Baltimore County Police Officer Gregory Kovalenko on Feb. 24, 1999, in Baltimore County District Court were dismissed on Dec. 2, 1999.

On Nov. 10, 1999, theft charges against Russell by Anne Arundel Police Detective R. Reyes were put on the Stet Docket in a plea deal by the Anne Arundel County States Attorney.

Charged with theft by his father

A felony theft charge filed against Russell by his father Robert Ralph Russell Sr., was dropped by Baltimore County States Attorney on July 29, 1997.

Harassment and telephone misuse charges placed against Russell by Laura Anderson in Howard County District Court on Aug. 31, 1998, resulted in a plea deal by the Howard County States Attorney who placed the charges on the Stet Docket on Nov. 5, 1998.

Robert Ralph Russell Jr. was convicted of theft on July 29, 1997, following his arrest by Baltimore County Police Officer Michael Dzambo.  Russell was ordered to pay $140 in restitution and later violated the terms of his probation on June 15, 1999.

Charles-County-District-Court-Judge-Andrea-Watkins

DISTRICT COURT JUDGE WATKINS WASN’T
NEW TO DOMESTIC VIOLENCE

District Court Judge Andrea Watkins was appointed to the District Court for Charles County by then-Governor Martin O’Malley. Watkins was a Domestic Relations Master for the court from 2007 to 2014 and in that position should have been well-versed in cases of domestic violence and the havoc associated with the release of a violent offender.

From 1996 to 2007, Watkins was an assistant county attorney for Charles County and was in the private practice of law from 1988 to 1996.

District Court Judges do not stand for election and are appointed to ten-year terms. Watkins’ term is up in 2024.

1 thought on “MURDER USA: Release by District Court Judge Andrea Watkins Allowed Killer Robert Russell Loose to Finish the Job of Murdering his Ex-Girlfriend

  1. Rachel Africa was my sister & the court systems failed her! Robert should not of been let out & should have been charged with attempted murder but the charges were dropped to a less severe charge & he was allowed out. The same officer who arrested him had to find my sister dead days later in the same room. I just had the viewing for my sister today & she looked absolutely horrible! No makeup could cover all the severe bruising on her face, neck & chest. I could see fingerprints still on her chest from where he held her down. I am disgusted that he was allowed to be let out. I hope this keeps her up at night because her son now does not have a mother & just had the worst birthday of his life being she was murdered a few days before! I will be looking into this further & feel as though I may need to obtain a lawyer to fight for my sister.

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