The Crawford County circuit judge who at the end of December reduced more than one-eighth of the county detainess' bonds says he carefully considered each case brought before him.
Circuit Judge Gary Cottrell on Dec. 28 lowered bonds for 42 Crawford County detainees awaiting trial, including one accused of rape and one accused of terroristic act with a firearm. Cottrell on Friday said the bonds that were lowered were selected from the 84 detainees at the hearing based on factors such as the nature of the charge and length of time they have been inside the Crawford County Jail.
"You have to look at those cases so that you don’t have a massive amount of cases that are seven to eight months old that need to be tried," Cottrell said, noting that Crawford County tries defendants within nine months of their arrests.
Cottrell said he has had many similar bond hearings in the past, especially before the construction of the current jail with expanded capacity. He said "a tremendous amount of requests for bond reductions, alleging that people have been in jail for six, seven, eight months without a trial" led him to hold the Dec. 28 hearing.
Cottrell said he ordered the Sheriff's Office to bring all detainees who had been in the jail for more than one month before him for the hearing. In addition to lowering the 42 detainees' bonds, Cottrell also kept 28 bonds the same. Records do not specify if the remaining 14 bonds changed or remained the same.
Sheriff Ron Brown has declined to comment on the bond hearing.
"It’s necessary for me to review those from time to time to make sure the bond is commensurate, because between the first appearance when they first see me and six to eight months later, things change as far as the evidence is concerned, as far as the availability of the evidence, as far as the prosecutor’s attitude toward the cases and what can be proven in a trial," Cottrell said.
Kelsey Fry, who was charged with terroristic act after she allegedly fired a gun at an occupied RV in October, had her bond lowered to $75,000 in the hearing. Shannon Keith, who in September was charged with rape, had his bond for this charge lowered to $40,000.
"These two cases that you’ve picked out didn’t stand out particularly among the 80," Cottrell said. "Basically, I looked at how long they’ve been in jail, what the attorneys told me during the hearing, looked at the nature of the charge."
Tyler Buchanan and Christina McKee, both homicide suspects, were among those whose bonds stayed the same. Buchanan in June allegedly kept his daughter from breathing prior to her death and is charged with capital murder. McKee in October was charged with first-degree murder and aggravated assault with a firearm after she allegedly shot her boyfriend in his truck outside his place of work.
None of the detainees whose bonds were lowered had bonded out as of Thursday, Cottrell said.