A Las Vegas woman who was released without bail despite beating a man with a metal pole may only serve four years in prison for her crimes.
Vanessa Harvey, 49, beat a man with a metal pole on October 22, 2021, but was released without bail even after she failed to show up for a court date, KLAS reported. Just two weeks after her release, Harvey beat another man with a metal pole along with Machika Goodjoint, a 42-year-old mother of eight. Goodjoint died due to her injuries. Harvey pleaded guilty to manslaughter and no contest to the first beating.
Following the first attack, police found the metal pole in the car where Harvey had been living.
Harvey didn’t appear for her probable cause hearing on the charge of battery resulting in substantial bodily harm, and her bail was set at $5,000. A pretrial risk assessment used by Nevada courts to guide bail decisions deemed Harvey a “moderate risk” and showed she had not failed to appear at any court date within the past two years.
This was inaccurate, however, as Harvey had missed a court date in October 2020 relating to a charge of battery after she beat a 7-year-old child. Harvey pleaded no contest in that case and was sentenced to just 150 days in city jail. She was released after two months.
“When she was located, a metal pole with apparent blood was located inside the vehicle with her,” prosecutors wrote in documents obtained by KLAS. “After Miranda, the defendant told police that [the victim] had entered the vehicle and began hitting her at which time she defended herself with the metal pole, but only remembered hitting [him] on the hands. Detectives did not observe any injuries on the defendant.”
Days later, Las Vegas Justice Court Judge Diana Sullivan released Harvey without bail, in part citing Harvey’s claim that she acted in self-defense.
Two weeks later, on November 8, 2021, Goodjoint was walking around her neighborhood when she and an unnamed man were attacked by a woman wielding a metal pole. Police body cam footage would show police officers arriving at the scene to help the victims, finding Goodjoint near a sidewalk with a massive head wound, according to KLAS. Her injury was so severe the officer in the footage thought she had been shot in the face.
A second officer helped the man, who survived his injuries.
“I knew my baby didn’t have a chance, period,” Rozlyn Byron, Goodjoint’s aunt, told KLAS.
“She loved her 89106 area,” Byron told the outlet, referring to the neighborhood’s ZIP Code. “No matter if I said, ‘Baby do you want to move?’ ‘Nah uh. I don’t want to move from my 89106 area.’”
“My baby walked around, even though she didn’t have much herself, she walked around, she fed her people on the streets,” Byron added.
The aunt said Goodjoint had previously helped Harvey by giving her meals.
Just minutes after police officers found Goodjoint and the male victim, they located Harvey with a bloody metal pole at her side.
“We’ve got a pole over here and there’s blood on it,” an officer said, according to KLAS.
Another officer asked Harvey if she had been hurt in case she was a third victim.
“No, she’s got the pole, dude,” another officer said.
Harvey refused to identify herself when she was taken into custody.
“It does get frustrating though when something like that occurs because we did our job and now that person is out again,” retired Las Vegas Metro police assistant sheriff Jim Seebock told KLAS, referring to issues within Nevada law. “What the community may not be aware of is how common it is for someone to be arrested for a violent crime and then be let out sometimes the next day, sometimes the matter of just a few days.”
In May 2023, Harvey pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter in the death of Goodjoint and was sentenced to four to ten years in prison, making her eligible for parole in 2025.