Cook County Chief Judge Timothy Evans’ office confirmed Wednesday that, contrary to his claims during a speech last week, people accused of murder and attempted murder have been released on electronic monitoring (EM) since November 1.
Speaking to a lunch crowd at the Union League Club last Thursday, Evans said:
Not one person who has been charged with murder or even attempted murder has been ordered to electronic monitoring under the sheriff since October of last year. So that whole process is changing and I just want you to be well aware of it.
CWBChicago reported Monday that sheriff’s office records showed about 20 people accused of those crimes were placed on electronic monitoring in the 90 days before Evans’ speech. Among those released were some who won bail reductions and had electronic monitoring added as a condition of release since October, we reported.
In a statement Wednesday, Evans’ office said, “no one charged with attempted murder or murder after October has been ordered to electronic monitoring and been released. Some people facing attempted murder or murder charges were placed on EM after October 31, but they had been arrested before, in some cases, years before.”
But Evans didn’t limit the claims in his speech to persons arrested after October 31.
Neither his comments nor his office’s new statement addressed other possibilities. For example, murder defendants arrested since November 1 might have been released without electronic monitoring. Under his office’s statement, it is also possible that some were ordered onto EM, but they have not yet been released.
In practice, very few people charged with murder or attempted murder are given electronic monitoring with easy-to-meet bail amounts during the early stages of a case. Research by CWBChicago for a recent series of reports found that nearly all people on EM for murder or attempted murder charges were released following bail reviews that came well after their initial hearings, not within the first three months.
Although, there is one exception in the not-too-distant past.
That person was in bond court on — you’ll appreciate the timing of this — October 29, two days before Evans’ cut-off date.
In that case, prosecutors accused an 18-year-old man of beating, choking, and stomping his pregnant 17-year-old girlfriend for 20 to 30 minutes after her cat knocked something over in his apartment.
They charged him with attempted murder, aggravated battery, and aggravated battery of a pregnant woman and asked Judge Kelly McCarthy to hold him without bail.
She said no.
The state’s allegations “sounded like a pretty lengthy beating occurred for little or no reason,” McCarthy said. Referring to the baby, the judge noted, “there is still a heartbeat, so that is good.”
But McCarthy said the man had “no other indicators of violence” and set his bail at $100,000. Two days later, he went home on electronic monitoring after posting a 10% deposit bond.
While many major media outlets last week printed and broadcast Evans’ inaccurate claims about murderers not being placed on EM, only Greg Hinz, political columnist for Crain’s Chicago Business, has set the record straight.