Judge allowed woman accused of killing two in a drunken crash to leave hours after arrest

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SALT LAKE CITY, UT – A recent investigation by 2News in Utah revealed the Utah State Police at best mishandled a DUI investigation that left two dead.

Worse yet, the investigation also showed that the judge involved in the initial case allowed the suspect to go free only a few hours after the deadly crash.

On October 31, 2021, Kesley Pope, 22 years old at the time, crashed into a vehicle that was on the shoulder of Interstate 15 in Orem, Utah.

The crash left the 43-year-old mother and special needs teacher, Season Dow, and her 16-year-old son Toby, dead.

Utah Highway Patrol responded to conduct their investigation in which they noted in initial charging documents that Pope smelled of alcohol and they located a marijuana pipe inside of her truck. Officers noted the marijuana pipe had residue inside of it.

2News notes many concerning points during the initial phase of the criminal investigation conducted by the Utah Highway Patrol.

The concerns are that police allowed Pope to have unnecessary interaction with her parents who were not involved and potentially hampered the investigation, allowed her parents to drive her unsupervised to the station to perform field sobriety exercises.

She was also allowed to drink water before the breathalyzer test, which is prohibited.

Regardless, Pope was arrested and charged with two counts of automobile homicide and DUI.

While the points listed above are valid, what is more concerning is that the first appearance judge allowed Pope, whose blood alcohol level was shown to be twice over the legal limit in the state and accused of killing two people, to be released without posting any bond just over two hours after her arrest.

Fourth District Court Judge Kraig Powell’s order of release stated in part:

“Based on the affirmation of Jeff Dutson, the arresting officer, the undersigned magistrate finds that probable cause existed for the arrest without a warrant of Kesley Pope. Kesley Pope is to be released on her own recognizance.”

2News spoke to Kent Morgan, a former prosecutor for the Salt Lake County District Attorney’s Office who had a hard time understanding why Judge Powell ordered Pope released without bond. He said:

“That was shocking. I have never seen that, and I wouldn’t have anticipated that even in Utah County. The judge, in this case, exercised judicial power that was inconsistent with the statute.”

The statue which Morgan is referring to had gone into effect on May 5th of 2021, five months before Pope crashed into Dow’s vehicle on the side of the interstate.

The statute mandates certain defendants be admitted to bail unless the person has been arrested with DUI and/or the offense for which the defendant is charged resulted in the death or serious bodily injury of another.

Since Pope was arrested for two counts of vehicular homicide and DUI, she would fit into the category of not being given a bond, let alone allowed to leave the jail on her recognizance.

2News attempted to speak to Judge Powell regarding why he allowed Pope to go free after her arrest against the statute.

Instead of getting a straight answer, they instead were told that the judge nor the court would provide one to “preserve judicial neutrality.”

Morgan, concerned with the judge’s decision to allow Pope free, said that she was treated “softly.” He said:

“Not in my career have I seen someone charged with such a serious offense treated so softly.”

After Pope had been freed, Utah County Prosecutors argued that she needed to be taken back into custody and stay there until her court case because they viewed her as a flight risk.

This was because she owned a business in Costa Rica and believed that she might flee the country.

The judge in the case granted the motion and she was taken back into custody where she remained until she was found guilty in the case. Pope was sentenced to up to five years in prison for the death of the mother and son which means she could serve up to ten years behind bars.

Veteran: Liberal judges keep releasing violent, repeat offenders who keep going on to attack and kill more people

Veteran: Liberal judges keep releasing violent, repeat offenders who keep going on to attack and kill more people

The editorial comments in this article are brought to you by a U.S. veteran and current staff writer for Law Enforcement Today.

HOUSTON, TX – Josh Hill is the 232nd Criminal Court judge in Harris County. He is just one of many judges in the county that have no problem making the counties 4.8 million residence less safe.

According to a report, 174 Harris County residents have been killed at the hands of violent repeat offenders who were out of jail on multiple bonds.

Fox 26 Houston ran a segment entitles Breaking Bond, which highlighted the suspects and judges in two such cases. Judge Hill was one of those judges.

Veteran: Liberal judges keep releasing violent, repeat offenders who keep going on to attack and kill more people
Photo courtesy of Harris County District Court

In October of 2021, Delvin Clemons appeared before Hill on weapons charge. Keep in mind, this wasn’t his first time in front of a judge. According to Fox 26, Clemons has seventeen felony convictions. Law Enforcement Today was able to confirm those felonies, along with 9 misdemeanors.

Clemons appeared in front of Hill on charges of a felon in possession of a weapon and was released on $15,000 bond. He posted the $1,500 and walked out freely.

A month later, he was arrested, again.

Can you guess what the charge was?

Yup. Felon in possession of a weapon.

Houston Crime Stoppers’ Andy 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, [but] he gets out on bond again.”

His bond on the second appearance was set at $20,000. He again posted the necessary $2,000.

So, for those taking notes, Clemons has 17 felony convictions. He was arrested, once in October and again in November, for being in possession of a weapon.

Each time, the 232nd Criminal Court judge granted him a low bond and he walked away.

The 44-year-old was subsequently arrested on April 26, 2022.

This time he is charged with murder in the shooting death of 46-year-old Keishan Betts.

According to a press release from the Houston Police Department, officers were responding to an assault-in-progress at a Clear Lake-area apartment complex.

“HPD patrol officers responded to an assault-in-progress call in an apartment at [270 El Dorado Boulevard]. When officers arrived, Delvin Clemons walked out of the apartment and told them Ms. Keishan Betts was deceased in the bathroom. Officers found the victim suffering from a gunshot wound. Houston Fire Department paramedics transported Betts to an area hospital in critical condition with life-threatening wounds.” 

Betts died of her injuries 8 days later.

Prior to allegedly murdering Betts, he had 3 other violent crime convictions and numerous felon in possession convictions.

Ironically, he had two other convictions that he had bonds set at totaling $210,000. One of those was for $150,000 for burglary of a vehicle with two or more convictions. The other was for $60,000 over his arrest for theft under $1,500 with two convictions for the same offense.

But why worry about a few measly weapons charges?

Clemons is now assigned to the 232nd Criminal Court under Judge Josh Hill.

Wait. Isn’t that the same judge that had already cut him loose twice on weapons possession charges?

Yes. Yes, it is.

But Hill isn’t the only one.

Raymond Young is a registered sex offender with at least twelve convictions, five of which were felonies, including at least one for felon in possession of a weapon.

On May 7, 2022, Young appeared in the 180th Criminal District Court with Judge DaSean Jones.

Veteran: Liberal judges keep releasing violent, repeat offenders who keep going on to attack and kill more people
Photo courtesy of the Harris County District Courts

He was arrested and charged with assault of a family member.

Jones set his bond at $10,000. He posted his $1,000, and like Clemons, he walked back out on the street.

Police that the 44-year-old shot and killed 17-year-old John Smith just 2 weeks after he was freed on a low bond.

Young managed to evade police for almost 10 days before being apprehended.

Young is assigned back to the 180th and Judge Jones, where he is next scheduled to appear on June 22.

Like Clemons, Young had other charges across his rap sheet that carried much greater bonds.

His history includes three gun charges and 4 assault convictions, with two of those causing bodily injury.

Did we mention that he is a registered sex offender with two felony convictions of indecent exposure with a child?

As Fox reported, there was a time when judges were slow to allow felons to bond out on weapons charges.

Ray Hunt, Executive Director of the Houston Police Union supported that 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. 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,” Hunt said.”

But for some reason, judges in Harris County seem to prefer allowing them to bond out.

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

As Fox 26 captioned in their coverage, this “alarming trend is costing lives.”

 


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