Two years into an “affordable bail” initiative that is allowing most accused gun offenders and even accused murderers to be released from jail to await trial, Cook County’s chief judge says the program is working fabulously.
“It’s not by magic that we haven’t had any horrible incidents occur using this new [bail] system,” Chief Judge Timothy Evans said during county budget hearings on Nov. 4.
There are likely many people who would disagree with Evans’ definition of “horrible incidents” — if they were still alive to do so.
• On Feb. 9, Daryl Williams violated the terms of a court-ordered curfew, secured an illegal handgun, and then fatally shot 45-year-old Daniel Smith in the back of the head, prosecutors allege.
Three months earlier, Judge Stephanie Miller released Williams on a recognizance bond after he was charged with illegally possessing a stolen handgun near a “shots fired” incident on the South Side.
“That was me,” Williams allegedly told police. “I let off two rounds to see if [the gun] worked.”
Williams is now being held without bail as he awaits trial for murder.
• In August, someone fatally shot 34-year-old Neal Sumrell as he sat in his car in Humboldt Park. Someone also shot a woman who was in Sumrell’s vehicle as she tried to run away.
Prosecutors say they know who at least one of the shooters was: Antwane Lashley. The 18-year-old who was free on a recognizance bond and electronic monitoring at the time of the shootings after cops said they caught him with an illegal handgun on the West Side in May. Lashley was on juvenile probation for aggravated battery, causing great bodily harm at the time of his gun arrest, according to court records. He is now being held without bail as he awaits trial for murder.
• In May, prosecutors say, 30-year-old Antawan Smith murdered 15-year-old Jaylin Ellzey in a drive-by shooting. When police arrested Smith during a traffic stop two weeks later, officers reported finding a loaded handgun in his car.
At the time of the murder, Smith was free on bail while awaiting trial for Class X felony armed violence with a weapon; felony manufacture-delivery of cocaine; felony repeated unlawful use of a weapon by a felon, and felony aggravated fleeing. Smith was on parole for illegal possession of a handgun when cops arrested him on those charges in September. His bond amount? $6,000.
He’s now held without bail as he awaits trial for Ellzey’s murder and the earlier charges.
• In May 2018, a judge released 18-year-old Randy Wilson to await trial after prosecutors charged him with criminal trespass to a vehicle. But things escalated when Chicago police allegedly found him carrying a handgun illegally one month later. But, another judge released him to await trial again.
Three weeks later, a 50-year-old man told police that Wilson and three other men robbed him and two teenagers on the South Side. Police arrested Wilson and wrote in a report that he was wearing an electronic monitoring bracelet when they found him. Prosecutors charged him with two counts of attempted robbery with a firearm.
He paid a $2,500 deposit bond to get out of jail. And, of course, the judge ordered him to be on electronic monitoring which didn’t help much before.
In March, Wilson skipped court and remained AWOL for about five weeks until another man reported that Wilson walked up to his car and pointed a handgun at him. A judge finally decided to have Wilson held without bail, and the Cook County Sheriff’s Office filed an escape charge against him.
On Aug. 19, Wilson pleaded guilty to attempted robbery and to unlawful use of a weapon in the two most recent cases. Judge Carol Howard sentenced him to 2-1/2 years for the robbery case and a consecutive one-year term for pointing the gun at the guy who was sitting in his car.
He’s currently in prison with a parole date of May 20, 2020.
Here’s the part that Chief Judge Evans apparently doesn’t find horrible:
Shortly after Wilson reported to prison, prosecutors charged him with five counts of attempted murder and aggravated discharge of a firearm. They say he shot a 17-year-old boy back on March 9 — two days before he went missing from court — while he was supposed to be on electronic monitoring.
• In April, police arrested 39-year-old Quinton Nelson after they allegedly found bags of crack cocaine in his pockets and a loaded handgun in his back seat during a traffic stop. He denied knowing anything about the gun in his car or the packages of drugs in his pants, police reported. He has six previous felony narcotics convictions, according to court records. A judge allowed him to go home by posting a $1,000 deposit bond.
Last month, while free on the gun case, Nelson shot a 44-year-old man on the Far South Side, according to prosecutors.
Nelson is now being held without bail while awaiting trial for attempted murder.