By Doug Wyllie
Let’s rewrite the latest headlines out of Houston to more accurately capture recent news there:
“Boy Murdered, Teen Charged with Murder, No Adults Held Accountable”
As evening turned to night, on the fourth day of September, 12-year-old Frederick “Fred” Johnson—a typical boy with interests in football and basketball who had just begun a new academic year at the highly regarded Pro-Vision Public Charter School in Houston—was walking home from a convenience store with friends when the group encountered 18-year-old Kahlis Willis.
Willis reportedly instigated some manner of argument or confrontation, apparently reigniting an existing “beef” over an allegedly slashed car tire. One witness—a 13-year-old boy—said that in an instant, Willis was standing over Johnson’s prone body, firing bullets into him in what amounts to being an execution. Johnson was struck twice in the chest and once in the head and was pronounced dead at the scene.
Here’s where we typically put in a link to a local news source—SOP is a line beginning, “According to [fill-in-the-blank]…” where you, gentle reader, can get more information about the victim and the alleged perpetrator.
In this instance, we could cite KHOU-TV News, KTRK-TV News, KIAH-TV News, KRIV-TV News, or the Houston Chronicle. We’re not going to do that today because you don’t need much more from those media organizations than that which has already herein and heretofore been provided.
We will, however, pass along one piece of information conspicuously absent from those sources but included in the news coverage of outlets like the Auburn Citizen and The Messenger and KPRC-TV News: Authorities said that Willis was out on bond for another violent crime at the time of the shooting.
Yeah… we know… shocking.
Actually… not so much.
It happens all the time.
Looks Bad in the Papers
Go to Google or Bing or Yahoo (just kidding, nobody uses Bing or Yahoo) and enter the terms “out on bond Houston Texas” and you’ll be presented with an amazing array of news stories about people arrested for crimes committed while they were bonded out of jail on other as-yet-unresolved criminal cases in “Mutt City.” Add in a couple of other search terms like “murder” and/or “kidnapping” and/or “assault” and you get all sorts of interesting reading material.
Limiting our search to just the past six months, we found the following examples (among many others).
In April, 20-year-old Daniel Medrano was out on bond for a capital murder from September of last year when he was arrested and charged with another capital murder, this time in connection with an armed robbery in March.
In May, 18-year-old Jaime Salinas was arrested and charged with the murder of a man outside a sports bar after having posted bond in connection with a case in October of last year in which he allegedly assaulted a police officer and took that cop’s sidearm.
In June, 31-year-old Nicholas Hawkins was arrested and charged with aggravated robbery, evading arrest, and possession of a prohibited weapon after carjacking a small sedan, leading police on a pursuit (which in turn led to a vehicle collision involving a package delivery truck), and then fleeing on foot into a school while summer classes were in session. He was out on bond for a theft charge from April of this year.
In July, 18-year-old Charles Anthony Hudson was arrested and charged with Capital Murder in connection with the murder of a ride-for-hire driver in May of this year. The victim in this case—43-year-old Hector Torres—was shot multiple times, had his vehicle carjacked, and was left for dead in the middle of a Houston street. At the time of the incident, Hudson was out on “personal recognizance” bond (essentially a “get out of jail free” card) for charges including Unauthorized Use of a Motor Vehicle,
In August, 29-year-old Marcus Deshawn Oneil was arrested charged with Aggravated Assault as well as Felon in Possession of a Firearm after he reportedly pistol whipped a motorist after colliding with that individual’s vehicle on a Houston area freeway. Just weeks before this incident, he had been freed from jail after posting bond for a charge of—wait for it—Felon in Possession of a Firearm.
In September, 23-year-old Dayton Andre Booker was arrested and charged with robbery in connection with a criminal complaint from the parking lot of a local gas station in Texas City. At the time of this incident, Booker was out on bond and still facing an open murder charge in the vicious beating death of a 65-year-old man in the parking lot of a “saloon and dance hall” also in Texas City.
The, of course, less than a month ago we chronicled in this space the sordid story of Terran Green, a wanted felon out on bond who shot at police officers in two separate incidents over the course of just a couple days. Green had been found guilty of a variety of crimes in the past decade and a half including Aggravated Assault with a Deadly Weapon, Drug Possession (Oxycodone and Hydrocodone) with Intent to Distribute, Evading Arrest in a Motor Vehicle, and Theft. Green was out on bond when he left four police officers with gunshot wounds.
In each instance, there was at least one—and often several dozen—news report with the term “out on bond” included in the headline.
A convincing argument can be made that all this is possible because the system has been rendered irrevocably, irretrievably, irreversibly broken by a semi-organized cadre of elected officials and “criminal justice reform” advocates. Among those doing all this damage, perhaps the most important single group of people is a bastion of liberal-minded (read: pro-criminal) Harris County District Criminal Court Judges.
Looks Good On Paper
According to the Harris County Sheriff’s Office, the inmate bonding process is relatively straightforward. During the pre-trial phase of a criminal court case, an accused individual may seek some manner of bond—generally personal monies or surety provided—and gain freedom on the “guarantee” to appear at future court proceeding.
There’s a fairly long list of circumstances in which bond is approved as a matter of course. So-called “minor crimes” and “victimless misdemeanors” generally lead to a judge setting a bond amount within the realm of payable possibility for the accused.
There are some instances in which it is far less likely for bond to be granted, or it is set so high that it becomes a virtual impossibility. For example, In Texas, the only charge for which a defendant is generally—almost universally—denied bond is Capital Murder. Another case might be one in which a defendant is charged with a felony and has been convicted of two prior felonies on two different previous occasions. Or perhaps a defendant has been charged with committing the very same felony for which he is already out on bond.
This all looks fine on paper, but it all goes sideways as soon as the abovementioned semi-organized cadre of “progressive” advocates of “criminal justice reform” gets “involved.”
Those judges include people like Lori Chambers Gray, Nata Cornelio, Darrell Jordan, Greg Glass, Lina Hidalgo, Josh Hill, Jason Luong, Hillary Unger, Brian Warren, and others associated with the Harris County District Criminal Court.
These folks get “involved” by inserting their discretion—which is altogether too often the absence of discretion—and invariably in so doing make and indelible and ugly “mark” on matters.
In Houston, criminal defendants fitting all of the abovementioned instances in which bond is supposed to be difficult or nearly impossible to obtain must only appear before one of these people to magically and quickly emerge from their incarceration.
Leading to headlines like “Boy Murdered, Teen Charged with Murder, No Adults Held Accountable.”
Nothing about that looks good.