No surprise: Alleged cop killer was on probation for armed robbery, but should have been behind bars

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PITTSVILLE, MD – Austin Jacob Allen Davidson is accused of shooting and killing Wicomico County Sheriff’s Deputy First Class Glenn Hilliard.

It is hard enough to stomach when a member of law enforcement is murdered. It makes it even more difficult when you learn that the alleged killer should have already been in jail.

Hilliard was trying to arrest the suspect on several felony warrants spanning several jurisdictions.

Now, he is facing additional charges of first-degree murder, second-degree murder, first-degree assault, second-degree assault, reckless endangerment and the use of a firearm in the commission of a violent crime. He is being held without bond in the Wicomico County Detention Center.

As reported by the Baltimore Sun, the deputy arrived at an apartment complex to attempt to locate Davidson and take him into custody.

Wicomico County Sheriff Mike Lewis said that Hilliard spotted him leaving the building using a stairwell and began a foot pursuit when Davidson spotted him and ran.

Hilliard gained ground and told Davidson he was going to tase him if he didn’t stop. He did deploy the stun gun, but it was ineffective.

As they reached the woods behind the complex, Davidson turned and, raising a handgun, fired two shots at Hilliard, striking him at least once. Hilliard never had a chance to draw his own weapon. He collapsed to the ground. Davidson stood over Hilliard momentarily before running away.

The entire event was captured on Hilliard’s body-worn camera.

He was finally captured after roughly two hours of hiding in the woods. While he was hiding, Davidson called a friend, telling her to check her social media. According to court documents, that message read:

“I shot a cop I was scared I love u bye.” 

Sheriff Lewis issued a statement on the department’s Facebook page.

“Deputy Glenn Hilliard was a son, a husband and a father to three beautiful children, a brother to those he worked with, and an exemplary public servant to the citizens of Wicomico County and to the State of Maryland. Our hearts and prayers go out to Glenn’s family during this difficult time.”

Now, a family is left to grieve his death.

After news of Davidson’s past was brought to light, they, along with so many others, are questioning how it could have possibly happened.

The 20-year-old Davidson was not supposed to be on the streets. Thanks to a decision by a judge and a COVID loophole, he was.

According to the Sun, Davidson was convicted of armed robbery in February of 2020. He was set free with time served as his only stint behind bars for the crime.

While prosecutors were asking for a sentence of jail time, the circuit judge in that case, Melissa Phinn, elected to impose probation before judgement, according to the Baltimore State’s Attorney’s office.

“In this case, the prosecutor secured a conviction and made a sentence recommendation of jail time,” said spokeswoman Zy Richardson. “The court imposed a sentence of probation before judgment.”

The statement appears to be made simply to deflect the spotlight.

The reality is that isn’t the complete picture, the Sun said.

“While a brief prison sentence was recommended, a city prosecutor said in court that Davidson should be sentenced to time served and given probation, which also would have set him free.

His public defenders had worked out a deal with city prosecutors, according to their statements in court. If Davidson could get into a juvenile placement program and succeed, prosecutors would agree to a sentence of ‘probation before judgment.’ If he completed probation, such a sentence would result in his guilty plea being vacated and allow him to have a clean record.

But no such program had an opening due to the coronavirus pandemic, which had struck earlier that year. Under the agreement, if a juvenile program was not available, Davidson would be sentenced to 10 years in prison, with all but 18 months suspended.

Read that again.

He was instructed to enter a juvenile placement program. If one was not available, he would be sentenced to 10 years, but would only have to serve 18 months.

Prosecutors agreed that he should be sentenced to the pre-trial detention time, which was 1 year.

But instead, Phinn opted to release him and give him 3 years of probation.

Davidson, who got a GED while in jail, told the judge ahead of sentencing:

“I’ve been talking to my social worker, and they have a plan for if I get released that I’ll be staying at a hotel temporarily on the Eastern Shore until they find somewhere for me to go — a group home, a foster home or independent living.”

Here was Phinn’s response.

“This is a serious offense, but I’m willing to give you an opportunity. If you go back to this behavior, you’re going to owe me 20 years, and I won’t hesitate to give it to you if you get involved with another armed robbery.”

And that is exactly what he did that led to his warrants and his encounter with Deputy First Class Hilliard.

Judge Phinn issued a warrant for his arrest on May 9th for probation violation. Prior to that, in February, he pleaded guilty to possessing more than 10 grams of marijuana in Worcester County.

In April, he was charged with assault for allegedly beating a man at an under-21 club in Ocean City. Later that month he was again charged with malicious destruction of property.

That’s when Phinn deemed to be in violation of his probation.

Eleven days later, he was charged with burglary, possession of a rifle or shotgun despite a disqualifying conviction and theft of up to $25,000.

He is alleged to have stolen a rifle and used it to shoot his way into an Eden-area convenience store, taking approximately $14,000 in cash, lottery tickets and tobacco products.

Law Enforcement Today, along with numerous other media outlets have reached out to Judge Phinn’s office to see if she had any comment regarding Davidson and the role her decision may have played in the events of the past few months.

While we have not received an official response, the Sun reported that Bradley Tanner, a Maryland Judiciary spokesman, said:

“Judges and the Maryland Judiciary cannot comment on cases.”  

 

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In what had turned into an alarming trend, judges are releasing violent offenders, only to see them arrested again for committing further acts of violence. For more detail, we invite you to

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Report: Several Harris County judges released ex-convicted felons charged with firearm possession out on bond

HARRIS COUNTY, TX- According to a report from Fox26, Harris County judges are routinely granting bail to ex-convicted felons who have been charged with being a felon in possession of a weapon.

Take for example Raymond Young and Delvin Clemons, who are both 44-years-old and have several mugshots capturing their career in criminal activity. Andy Kahan with Crime Stoppers said in a statement:

“Both of them have lengthy criminal histories, both have been convicted of violent offenses.”

Records indicate that Clemons has 17 felony convictions and back in October of 2021, 232nd Criminal District Court Judge Josh Hill granted him bond for felon in possession of a weapon. Kahan said:

“A month later, he gets charged again for felon in possession of a weapon. You would have thought that would have been the end of the story. He gets out on bond again.”

Police said that in May, Clemons allegedly shot and killed Keishan Beets at an apartment complex at 270 El Dorado Blvd.

Before several counties, districts, and states began bail reform, judges were hesitant to grant bond to ex-convicted felons who were being charged with felon in possession of a weapon. Ray Hunt, Executive Director of the House Police Union, said in a statement:

“That’s absolutely true. I talked to the District Attorney in Montgomery County. He says he remembers one time when something like that happened.”

Now, it seems the judges grant almost any violent criminal bond, including some Harris County Criminal Court Judges who grant bond all the time for defendants charged with felon in possession of a weapon. Kahan said:

“Very low bonds, where it’s only going to take maybe $1,000 to get out.”

Young, a convicted sex offender has 12 convictions, including felon in possession of a weapon. On May 7th, 180th Criminal District Court Judge Desean Jones granted him a $10,000 bond for assault of a family member.

Allegedly, 14 days later, Young shot and killed 17-year-old John Smith at 1328 East 35th Street. Hunt said in a statement:

“When you’ve got people who are felons in possession of a firearm out on multiple bonds, getting arrested again, that person should get a no bond or at least a million dollar bond.”

Fox26 also reported that Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) agents have raided a Houston bail company that is being accused of charging substantially low bonds.

FBI agents and members of the Texas Anti-Gang Task Force spent several hours at AABLE Bail Bonds at 1620 Austin Street. At the conclusion of the search, boxes and boxes of files were placed in an 18-wheeler.

The bail bond company is reportedly known for charging less than 10 percent of the bond amount and even offering payment plans, which has helped some high-profile murder cases. A official spokesperson for the FBI said in a statement:

“The FBI confirms that we are presently leading a legitimate multi-agency law enforcement operation with fellow members of Texas Anti-Gang Task Force at the 1600 block of Austin St. in Houston. Given the ongoing nature of the matter, we are not permitted to comment further.”

The bail bond company and others owned by the same family are known in the industry for bonding out high-risk offenders. Mario Garza, president of the Harris County Bail Bond Association, said in a statement:

“High risk meaning there’s usually not any collateral the co-signers are usually not creditworthy it’s less money put down there’s not a great support system with family and friends.”

The bail bond company have posted bonds for headline-grabbing criminals like 35-year-old Gerald Wayne Williams, who was able to post bond after being charged with murder in the fatal shooting of 17-year-old David Castro.

The Muharib Family, who are the owners are AABLE Bail Bonds, also posted 30-year-old Deon Ledet’s bond. He had seven prior felony convictions before he shot and killed Houston Police Department Officer William “Bill” Jeffery.

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Chicagoland: Repeat felon again out on bond allegedly stalked a random victim for a gang revenge murder

May 23rd, 2022

CHICAGO, IL – A two-time felon has been accused of driving around and looking for someone to kill for the purpose of a gang revenge shooting in a city plagued with homicides.

According to a report by CWB Chicago, the suspect is Manya Chappel, 24, who allegedly drove around for 15 minutes looking for a victim to kill in the city’s Austin neighborhood earlier this year.

Chappel was already on bail for allegedly being a felon in possession of a firearm, prosecutors recently said. Now, he is charged with first-degree murder of Demarco Strawder, the 24-year-old man that his passenger allegedly gunned down that day.

Strawder was shot in the chest and legs and was taken to Loyola University Medical Center in Maywood, where he was pronounced dead, according to a report by Chicago Sun Times.

CWB Chicago reported that Chappel is the 19th person to be charged with killing or shooting another person while awaiting trial for another felony.

The murder took place around noon on Jan. 15. CWB Chicago reported that a man with tattoos on his face pulled his car to a stop on the city’s West Side.

Allegedly, Chappel and his passenger, who was armed with a gun, asked a passerby where they could buy “blows,” street slang for heroin. The passerby didn’t want to get involved, according to the same report:

“For 15 minutes, an array of surveillance cameras recorded those two men circling the area looking for someone to shoot to avenge the murder of a friend, prosecutors said.

“They picked Strawder.

“The passenger, who has yet to be charged, shot Strawder three times as he walked down the 1600 block of North Mayfield. Police found Strawder after responding to a ShotSpotter alert and 911 calls. Investigators found 11 shell casings on the street, prosecutors said.

“Detectives rounded up video footage from across the area and from nearby businesses that showed Chappel and the shooter in and out of the car before, during, and after the shooting, Assistant State’s Attorney James Murphy said.

“Chappel’s phone pinged in concert with the gunman’s phone as they traveled together, according to Murphy. Their phones allegedly registered less than 300 feet from the murder scene when Strawder was killed.”

CWB Chicago’s report indicated that Chappel was convicted of unlawful use of a weapon in 2016 and felony resisting in 2018:

“In May 2020, Judge David Navarro allowed him to go home on a $500 bail deposit after prosecutors charged him with being a felon in possession of a firearm. He was still on bail when Strawder was killed, Murphy said.

“Prosecutors this week charged Chappel with first-degree murder.

“His defense attorney argued the passenger was the one who supposedly shot Strawder, not Chappel.

“But Judge Mary Marubio pointed to the ‘stalking of the victim’ by circling the area for 15 minutes as a key factor in the case. The extensive surveillance footage and phone GPS evidence also weighed heavily, she said.

“She then granted the state’s motion to hold Chappel without bail on the murder charge. Marubio also ordered Chappel held without bail for violating the terms of bond in the pending gun case.”

https://twitter.com/AdriEnn89329244/status/1528200832004628480

Block Club Chicago reported on May 19 that the West Side neighborhood has seen a 58 percent drop in shootings due to violence prevention programs and outreach workers:

“Shootings are down more than 15 percent citywide compared to this time last year, according to an analysis by street outreach organization Chicago CRED.

“West Side neighborhoods have seen even more dramatic improvements: Austin has had a 38 percent decrease in shootings compared to last year, and shootings in West Garfield Park have dropped by almost one-third.

“The progress is even more promising in North Lawndale, showing a nearly 57 percent drop in shootings, according to CRED data.

“The public safety improvements follow increases in state, federal and local funding for community-driven anti-violence strategies, including Gov. JB Pritzker committing $50 million this year to support violence intervention.”

According to the same report, outreach programs, such as Communities Partnering 4 Peace, CRED, UCAN and Flatlining Violence Inspires Peace, work because they address some of the circumstances that make people vulnerable to violence.

Jorge Matos, senior director of READI Chicago, an initiative of Heartland Alliance, told Block Club Chicago that READI participants are 45 times more likely to be shot than the average Chicagoan, according to the organization’s data.

Matos said that nearly all have previously been arrested, more than half have been incarcerated and at least 60 percent are housing insecure, which makes these individuals more likely to be impacted by violence:

“We combine what we know works — outreach, cognitive behavioral [therapy] and transitional employment — to help people create a viable path and opportunities for a different future.”

Matos also said that the organization’s behavioral health services “helps people slow down their thinking and respond differently to risky situations.”

Matos added:

“Not only do we help them heal and reframe their thinking, we also give them a chance to earn income and support themselves and their families, pursue skills training with real economic opportunities.”

Another organization, Flatlining Violence Inspires Peace, places outreach workers in neighborhood hot spots to organize events that promote peace.

Block Club Chicago reported:

“Research from Northwestern University’s Northwestern Neighborhood and Network Initiative shows shootings rarely happen when outreach workers are present. More than 80 percent of the hot spots targeted by Flatlining Violence Inspires Peace saw zero shootings while outreach workers were on duty, the research showed.

“Those safety improvements at hot spots are a result of the 47 non-aggression agreements negotiated by the program’s workers and more than 600 individual interventions, said Jalon Arthur, the program’s director of strategic initiatives.”

Arthur told Block Club Chicago:

“It’s about empowering men and women who are from those communities, from those blocks, to maintain peace across hot spots.”

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