Charleston, South Carolina – Charleston County residents are getting worried about the public safety in the area and rising questions about the legal system in state as judges continue to grant bonds to most of the murder suspects.
The rising trend in granted bonds started since 2018 and residents are asking for changes as the crime rates in the area is on the rise in the past period.
Understandable, people are worried that the situation might get even worse is something is not done on time.
The latest data shows that 67 percent of people charged with murder in 2018 were granted bond. However, that number jumped to 84% in 2019.
“It’s not a surprise,” South Carolina Victim Assistance Network legal director Sarah Ford said. “It should be shocking to me but it’s not. The number of defendants who are charged with violent crimes, given a bond, re-offend, [and] given a bond again? It’s astronomical.”
What is alarming is the fact that some of the suspects released on a bond are getting arrested again for another murder.
According to police reports, one such a case happened last month. Police believe that the suspect Aubrey Tucker is responsible for killing the victim Jessica Ancrum in the Goose Creek area, a mother of four, who was arrested in Columbia two days after the incident.
The 36-year-old Tucker was arrested last August and charged with murdering Ridgeville resident Anthony Myers in North Charleston. Two months after his arrest, he was released on a $200,000 bond.
“It’s very very unfortunate that here it is again,” Myers’ sister Warren Sharnae said. “He has another crime that he committed that he needs to be held accountable for.”
“It is only there to ensure someone shows up in court and to protect the community from certain individuals who pose a certain unreasonable risk,” Culver Kidd, a criminal defense lawyer based in South Carolina said, adding that judges considering bond should determine whether a defendant is a flight risk or a danger to the community.
He reminded the public the according to the American court systems, one is innocent until proven guilty. Kidd had also been working on the other side of the courtroom as he has been prosecutor for a few years in the past.
“Having access to my client is huge in my pre-trial prep,” Kidd said. “If my client is in jail, it limits my ability to defend them. I can’t even describe how much. It makes a huge difference.”
Kidd added that when releasing suspects on a bond, judges have multiple options to make sure that suspects won’t make another crime. According to him, judges can order suspect to remain at home, not speak to victims’ families, follow a curfew, or wear a GPS monitor.
While residents fear for their safety, judges continue to grant bonds on crime and murder suspects. Time will show if this trend is going to change anytime soon.