The number of individuals murdered by felons nine specific state district judges released on low bonds or what amounts to a “Get Out of Jail Free” card has reached a crisis point.
The judges – all first-termers – seem to be in competition to see which one can release the most killers back on the streets so they can snuff out more innocent victims.
Over the past three years in Harris County, 156 people have been killed by individuals charged with murder but turned loose after posting low bonds.
“Fifty-eight of these defendants are charged with capital murder,” said Andy Kahan, director of victim’s services for Crime Stoppers. “Even more disturbing is over a dozen of the defendants on this list are actually out on bond again.
“This has been one of the most interesting projects I have ever undertaken.”
The record keeps getting worse.
Of these 156 victims, two were police officers on duty while another was an off-duty New Orleans officer.
Getting the Word Out
HPOU PAC is using aggressive tactics to inform voters of this scary trend. The key steps are to identify the culprits and endorse their possible replacements, whether in in the March primary or the November general election.
One primary drawback is that Harris County voters don’t pay much attention to judicial candidates, this has become a daunting task.
A key step is – as one does in court – citing the record.
Kahan compiled this judicial scoreboard over the last three years. Kahan and his non-partisan organization do not endorse candidates or take political positions. So it should be carefully noted that these scary numbers were sorted by court identifiers and not by individual judges.
Of course, elected judges are responsible for every decision in their court, even those made by magistrates or visiting judges.
Besides identifying these wayward jurists by name, we will add the HPOU PAC’s endorsement in the upcoming election. These are all Democratic judges. Under the circumstances, this could mean that they have no primary opponent; thus, their only real opposition will be in November against a Republican challenger.
And here’s the list:
- 180th District Judge DaSean Jones – Freed six alleged killers on bond who are now charged with nine additional murders.
HPOU PAC ENDORSEMENT: Tami Pierce in the Republican Primary.
- 182nd District Judge Daniel Lacayo – Freed 11 defendants on bond, giving them the opportunity to kill nine other victims.
HPOU PAC ENDORSEMENT: Rob Jackson (Retired HPD) in the Republican Primary.
- 184th District Judge Abigail Anastasio – Freed seven defendants out who went ahead and killed 10 more people.
HPOU PAC ENDORSEMENT: Lori De Angelo in the Republican Primary.
HPOU PAC ENDORSEMENT: Katherine Thomas in the Democratic Primary.
- 208th District Judge Greg Glass – Freed five defendants who murdered nine others.
HPOU PAC ENDORSEMENT: Heather Hudson in the Republican Primary.
- 230th District Judge Chris Morton – Freed eight defendants on bond, seeing them commit seven additional murders.
HPOU PAC ENDORSEMENT: Brad Hart in the Republican Primary.
- 232nd District Judge Josh Hill – Freed eight on low bonds, resulting in the opportunity to kill six additional victims.
HPOU PAC ENDORSEMENT: Joshua Norman in the Republican Primary.
- 248th District Judge Hillary Unger – Freed nine accused killers who are now charged with seven additional murders committed while back out on the streets.
HPOU PAC ENDORSEMENT: Julian Ramirez in the Republican Primary
- 262nd District Judge Lori Chambers Gray – Freed 10 defendants now charged with committing 11 murders after posting bonds.
HPOU PAC ENDORSEMENT: Tonya Mclaughlin in the Republican Primary
- 263rd District Judge Amy Martin – Freed 10 defendants on bond who took the lives of nine victims.
HPOU PAC ENDORSEMENT: Amber Cox in the Republican Primary.
Judge Glass and his abysmal record especially sticks in the craw of Houston police officers. For one of those nine murder victims who part of Glass’ low bond record was their colleague, Officer Bill Jeffrey, gunned down while serving a warrant. The name on the warrant was that of a wanton multiple felon Judge Glass let go free on bond despite his record.
Makeshift Felony Bond Reform
Kahan said, “Over 150 people have been killed by defendants released on multiple felony bonds, a felony PR bond Get Out of Jail Free or on bond and that you forfeited, meaning you were a fugitive.”
In essence, Kahan opined, the state judges are implementing felony bail bond reform without any court-ordered mandate.
Misdemeanor bail bond reform is a different story. A federal court ordered misdemeanor courts to release defendants on a PR or general order bond. “This removed bond companies from having misdemeanor clients,” Kahan explained. “We have no issue with that whatsoever.”
It’s these felony courts that are turning loose violent offenders who haven’t had to pay that much to get out of jail.
“There is no court order regarding felony bonds,” Kahan said. “Judges have implemented their own version of felony bond reform by allowing defendants to be released time and again. It’s totally discretionary what they’re doing.”
Politically speaking, a strong prerequisite for being a fair criminal district judge in Harris County is experience as a prosecutor. It was somewhat surprising to learn that five of these nine elected judges have prosecutorial experience in the DA’s office. There are four who have only served on the defense side – Jones, Unger, Martin and Glass.
Adding further scariness to this horrid situation is the fact that 50 of the defendants in these low-bond releases are charged with capital murder!
Time was at the Harris County Courthouse when criminal district judges regularly refused any bond for a capital murder defendant. Now it happens as regularly as a Metro schedule.
None of the revelations emanating from Kahan’s research bring good news to police officers and others who merely want justice done right.
The records show three of the murder victims were unborn babies.
There are other interesting numbers in the compilation. Kahan found that of the 156 victims killed by these low-bond recipients, 79 were black and 48 Hispanic.
“If you look at victims,” Kahan said, “most are people of color, yet no one says anything. It always disturbs me about the lack of outrage, particularly by public officials.
“You would expect outrage about unborn children. And you would expect somebody to say something about the large number of black and Hispanic victims.
“It always disturbed me how our local leaders have no issue talking about crimes throughout the country. But when it’s in your backyard it’s very rare you hear outrage.”
Each of these judges in question were vaulted into office four years ago when incumbent President Donald Trump’s radical actions prompted a heavy Democratic turnout in the general election in Harris County.
History shows that 51 of 53 of the last midterm elections in the nation’s third largest county have gone against the party whose candidate was occupying the White House. Only in 1934 after President Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal popularity did the Democrats maintain control of the county and in 2002 when President George W. Bush was displaying strong leadership after 911, resulting in Republicans occupying the majority of county offices, including judgeships.
In 2014, with Democrat Barack Obama in the White House, Republicans swept the judicial elections in the county, the justices of the peace contests notwithstanding, while four years later Democrats swept the judicial elections.
So the trends would indicate Republican judicial candidates stand a better chance of winning this year than they did four years ago.
Ray Hunt, HPOU executive director, echoes the sentiments of Andy Kahan, but also points out that “since only about 50 percent of murders are solved, I believe the 156 killed by turds out on bond is probably more like 300.”