AUSTIN, TX- A judge in Austin, Texas has infuriated crime victim advocates by setting only a $50,000 bond for a child sex predator, which came after a previous judge had recommended a bond of $1 million, Fox News reports.
Reports say that the predator, a homeless, previously convicted man who now stands accused of felony sexual assault of a child had his bond set at only $50,00 by a magistrate judge in late December.
“It’s just unconscionable that a judge that took an oath to keep the community safe, to protect children, would do something that would take a known career criminal and violent predator and put him back out in the street,” said Austin Police Department Senior Officer Justin Berry to Fox News. “It’s just appalling.”
Fox said the magistrate made the absurd claim that she had followed proper procedures in consideration of setting the bond.
The incident took place on December 27, when Austin police officers were dispatched to a criminal trespass call. On arrival, officers reported they witnessed the sexual predator, Ronald Martin Jr., “performing oral sex on what appeared to be a young juvenile male,” an arrest affidavit reviewed by Fox News read.
Austin law enforcement officials booked Martin on December 28 into the Travis County Jail relative to an open warrant for failure to register as a sex offender, while they continue to investigate the circumstances around the new allegation.
Martin, a frequent sex-offending flyer is listed as a lifetime high-risk sexual offender by the Texas Department of Public Safety, and has a number of previous convictions for multiple sex crimes, which includes at least one involving a seven-year-old boy, Texas DPS said.
Austin police later identified the juvenile in the December assault as a 14-year-old from Kentucky. Police say he told them he met Martin via Instagram, where he went by the aliases of “Jaden” and “Kevin,” according to an interview with police.
The victim said Martin “asked him to send pictures of his penis” via Instagram, the Telegram app, and text message.
Martin subsequently traveled to a church close to the boy’s home, picked him up, and then paid for two tickets on Greyhound to Austin. Once there, Martin anally and orally sexually assaulted him.
After police interviewed both the victim as well as Martin, municipal court Judge Patrick McNelis signed an arrest warrant on December 29, charging him with second-degree felony sexual assault of a child.
McNelis also signed a recommended bond amount of $1 million in which he said “the defendant is currently in custody for failure to register as a sex offender.”
The following day, during a bond hearing before Judge Christyne Harris Schultz, she signed off on a $50,000 surety bond for Martin, which only required a 10% payment to set him free. Schultz also included a number of conditions, including GPS monitoring, and a no-contact order with the victim, nor any unsupervised contact with minors.
“As a judge, I follow the code of criminal procedure, in every case,” the judge told Fox News in a phone interview. “And in determining the amount and the conditions of bail, [I] consider the financial resources and their ability to make bail, and the safety of the community and the alleged victim as well.”
Officer Berry, meantime said one of the officers involved in the case was deeply troubled by Shultz’s decision.
“One of the officers I’ve talked to involved in this case…is deeply hurt. They spent a lot of time with the victim in this case, and they feel hopeless.”
Meanwhile, there are people locked up in Washington, DC jails being held without bond for criminal trespass. Let that sink in.
Berry, who is running as a Republican for a Texas legislative seat said that decisions such as Schultz’s gives officers in his department “a sense of hopelessness.”
One issue in the city of Austin where it concerns policing and crime is that judges in the city are in fact appointed by the city council, which has proven it doesn’t take crime in Texas’s state capital seriously.
For example, in 2020 the city council voted to gut police funding to the tune of $150 million.
“The culture has really got to change,” said Berry, while clarifying he is speaking for himself and not as a representative of the Austin Police Department. “I think [the] city of Austin, our elected officials, really got to stop meddling” and cease giving “woke dictations to our magistrates.”
Martin is still being held on the $50,000 bond for the felony sexual assault, as well as an additional $10,000 bond for failing to register as a sex offender. Fox said his next court hearing is scheduled for January 20.
For more on woke judges going light on criminals, we invite you to read our previous report on issues in California:
SAN JOSE, CA — Since August, three suspects in two different homicide cases have been released by judges with either little or no bail.
As a result, police officials and even the mayor have gotten upset about the decisions to release murder suspects back to the streets of San Jose.
California’s new bail reform process has made it easier to release suspects. While some blame judges, others blame the law involved.
Last year, the California Supreme Court ruled that it is unconstitutional to keep someone in custody just because they cannot afford to pay bail, according to a report by FOX11.
The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors called Tuesday on prosecutors, public defenders, courts and law enforcement to work together to develop a bail reform plan in line with a recent California Supreme Court ruling. https://t.co/5389S93lsN
— FOX 11 Los Angeles (@FOXLA) April 22, 2021
In addition, the report noted:
“Judges are now required to favor pretrial release and only order bail if there is clear and convincing evidence that it is the only way to ensure public safety and make certain that the defendant returns to court for future hearings.
“The defendant’s ability to pay must be taken into account in setting bail.”
In a recent homicide case, two suspects were charged in a fatal shooting on Halloween, but released without bail.
Why Are Some Murder Suspects Being Released With Little or No Bail? San Jose Police Chief Anthony Mata speaks out. https://t.co/wYiahAPpwL
— San Jose Police Dept (@SanJosePD) December 1, 2021
Efrain Anzures, 27, is charged with murder for what police describe as a hit-and-run road rage incident on Oct. 31, according to a report by NBC Bay Area.
Court documents show Judge Phillip Pennypacker put Anzures on house arrest, according to NBC’s report.
In addition, the judge only imposed a few restrictions, such as the suspect staying away from the victim’s family, submitting to searches and attending drug and alcohol counseling.
UPDATE: @SanJosePD upset in wake of judge’s decision to free Efrain Anzures (red) & Alfred Castillo from @SCCoSheriff jail on supervised own recognizance release. Anzures charged by @SantaClaraDA w/murder in Halloween shooting death of Isiah Gonzalez; Castillo alleged accessory pic.twitter.com/EquQXrfxtG
— Henry K. Lee (@henrykleeKTVU) December 1, 2021
Anzures’ alleged accomplice, Alfred Castillo, 26, was also released through the Supervised Own Recognizance Program (SORP).
SORP allows suspects to be released while their cases go through the legal process.
Anzures and Castillo are suspects in the slaying of Isiah Gonzalez. Newsbreak reported:
“Anzures has been charged with murder and a charging enhancement for allegedly using a gun.
“Meanwhile, Castillo has been charged with assault with a deadly weapon for using his car in the alleged crime.
“The shooting happened at around 3:40 p.m. Halloween in the 5200 block of Great Oaks Parkway.
“San Jose police said officers arrived to find a man suffering from at least one gunshot wound. He was taken to a hospital where he died of his injuries.”
Where is justice? No surprise sfbay is becoming a 💩 hole, burglaries and shootings becomes business as usual. You can get away with anything. #sickoftheviolence#fundthepolice#stifferpenalties#tougheroncrime
— dutchsailorbiker (@NLsailorbiker) November 30, 2021
In a separate case, another murder suspect was released through SORP.
Margarita Santillan is facing murder charges for a killing on Aug. 11 on Littlewood Lane. She was also placed under SORP by Judge Shelyna Brown, who added a $100,000 bond.
San Jose Police Chief Anthony Mata told NBC that suspects charged with murder or accessory to murder are being released by judges with little or no bail. The chief said their releases pose a serious threat to the community.
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Mata, who is a former homicide detective, also said he was “shocked” by the judges’ handling of murder suspects:
“This is the ultimate crime. This is murder. Someone took it upon themselves to kill another individual.
“This is difficult. We can only do so much. But we need help.”
The chief said it is demoralizing to arrest accused killers and then see them back on the streets within a few days.
3/ This event has been updated to a homicide. Number 30 for 2021. Adult male victim.
Media partners: press release tomorrow in the AM. pic.twitter.com/9ar3lXIkie
— San José Police Media Relations (@SJPD_PIO) December 2, 2021
San Jose Police Asst. Chief Paul Joseph told Newsbreak:
“The judges are probably following, to the best of their belief, what they think the law compels them to do, but if that’s what the law compels them to do, then the law needs to be changed. There’s a problem with the law.”
Even San Jose’s mayor, Sam Liccardo, expressed outrage over the latest release of homicide suspects. He tweeted:
“I appreciate the purpose of bail reform, but releasing a homicide suspect without bail is outrageous.
“The pendulum has swung too far, and it’s our neighborhoods that endure the most crime that suffer as a result.”
I would imagine any witnesses who are supposed to testify feel really safe right now. Sure is a nice deterrent to any future witnesses to murder in the area to come forward. “Hey as long as they don’t manage to off you b4 trial, you should be fine. “
— Veronica (@Veronic39357846) December 1, 2021
Liccardo also told Newsbreak he worries that the community is being put at risk:
“This is just dangerous for everyone and we need the judicial system to be able to understand and appreciate the public safety peril that is created by these decisions.”
Newsbreak reported that Santa Clara County District Attorney Jeff Rosen echoed Liccardo’s sentiments through a statement:
“People accused of low-level non-violent crimes can be released with appropriate conditions.
“Defendants facing murder charges are a danger the community and a flight risk and should not be released.”
San Jose has had 30 homicides so far this year, with the latest one occurring on Dec. 1.
UPDATE: San Jose police are searching for the suspect(s) in the city's 30th homicide of the year, a fatal shooting Wednesday on Holly Drive in East San Jose. https://t.co/X1bh9bnIpB pic.twitter.com/QS8l9X4zVV
— NBC Bay Area (@nbcbayarea) December 2, 2021
Legal analyst Steven Clark reviewed the cases of the suspects and told NBC:
“It appears there is a colorable self-defense component in both cases. These people did not have serious records, and they have no history of failure to appear.”
Clark also noted that due to the California Supreme Court’s ruling, he expects to see more murder suspects released on SORP in the future:
“It’s no longer a rubber stamp to keep someone in jail, even though the charges here are extremely serious.”
Clark further noted that two criteria are considered before pretrial release: is a suspect considered safe enough for the community and will that person show up for future court dates?
If the judge feels both are true, Clark said the suspect legally must be granted supervised release:
“Until you’ve been convicted of something, you should be given the opportunity to be considered for some sort of pretrial release otherwise, you have to fight your case in custody while everyone else who has money has to fight their case after posting bail.”
NBC reached out to the Superior Court, but was told comments on specific cases cannot be provided.
The Superior Court, however, released a statement regarding pretrial release of suspects and assured NBC that a judge reviews each case to see if it’s safe to release a suspect with proper supervision:
“Every judge reviewing a case for release is required to give individualized consideration to the person appearing before them, and to consider whether non-monetary or other conditions of release are sufficient to protect both the alleged victim and the public, and to ensure the defendant’s appearance in court.
“Supervised release with conditions, including but not limited to electronic monitoring, is a significant tool in that regard.
“A defendant charged with a serious or violent offense may not be released on other than scheduled bail until a hearing is held in open court.”
Chief Mata said better solutions are needed:
“This isn’t reform. We need to work together to come up with better solutions to keep our community safe and keep those individuals accountable.”
On Wednesday, the San Jose Police Media Relations announced on Twitter it believed a homicide suspect from yet another murder case fled to Mexico.
2/ He was also released on SORP. He is now outstanding and fled the country. Currently believed to be in Mexico. This is why dangerous defendants/suspects should not be released on their own recognizance.
— San José Police Media Relations (@SJPD_PIO) December 1, 2021
Police say 41-year-old Oscar Soto, who was in custody in connection to a homicide on Jan. 10, was released via SORP and is believed to have fled to Mexico.
Soto was arrested in connection with shooting a man near the 2300 block of Mammoth Drive in the early morning of Jan. 10, according to a report by KRON4.
The San Jose Police Media Relations suggested in its tweet that dangerous suspects should not be released:
“He was also released on SORP. He is now outstanding and fled the country. Currently believed to be in Mexico.
“This is why dangerous defendants/suspects should not be released on their own recognizance.”
Editor note: In 2020, we saw a nationwide push to “defund the police”. While we all stood here shaking our heads wondering if these people were serious… they cut billions of dollars in funding for police officers. And as a result, crime has skyrocketed – all while the same politicians who said “you don’t need guns, the government will protect you” continued their attacks on both our police officers and our Second Amendment rights.
And that’s exactly why we’re launching this national crowdfunding campaign as part of our efforts to help “re-fund the police”.
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