TARGET 8: Repeat offenders raise questions about bond process
BOONE COUNTY - The case of a man who repeatedly bonded out of jail after numerous violent offense charges prompted a KOMU 8 News investigation into the bonding process.
A new court date has been set for Kevin White, charged with first-degree assault, armed criminal action and a drug felony for his alleged participation in a Cole County shooting on Randall Drive that left a man in serious condition, earlier this year.
White was out on bond for a 2012 second degree assault charge when he allegedly participated in the shooting, making it the second charge he’s picked up since he was released from jail, while awaiting trial.
White was charged with third degree assault in 2013, and bonded out.
The Target 8 investigation began after several viewers called KOMU 8 News, saying White should not have been free to commit further crimes.
Tina Bozarth, a bondwoman who has been serving the Boone County area for over 10 years, said when it comes to clients who are facing serious charges, she has to vet them to see if they are even worth the risk.
“We ask a lot of personal questions. Where do you work? How long have you been there? For me I get really personal, what kind of drugs have you been doing, how long have you been doing it? I want to know what's going on," said Bozarth.
Whether Bozarth wants to help bond someone is her discretion, but first a judge has to allow a bond as an option. To set bonds, judges weigh a number of factors, including severity of the charges, criminal history, whether someone is a flight risk and if they are a potential harm to themselves or the public.
Attorney L.G. Copeland, founder of the Copeland Law Firm in downtown Columbia, said it is his priority to act in the best interest of his clients. He said he does the best he can to ensure his clients can get out.
“As defense council, I would argue to the judge to reduce the bond or in some cases release my client on their own recognizance," he said.
Some officials say there are several reasons not to want an individual to bail out.
Cpt. Keith Hoskins of Corrections at Boone County Jail said bond is just an exchange of securities for the release of a detainee that helps to assure an individual’s presence at trial. Bond does not guarantee that an individual will not commit a crime while out on bond. According to Hoskins, posting bond is very typical.
"Roughly about to 70 percent to 80 percent of our people will bond out within the first 4 to 12 hours of being incarcerated," he said.
Target 8 looked at 60 Boone County case listings from a two-week period in October. They consisted of charges pertaining to drugs, unlawful weapons, burglary and assaults. Sixteen percent were denied bail and another 10 did not bond out.
While some members of the public may feel uncomfortable with the premise of bonding out of jail, Copeland said that judgment should stay in the courtroom.
"I'd like to point out to everyone that, in this hypothetical situation, where someone is being accused of a crime, they have not been convicted and, not only has that not been determined yet, but there is presumption that they are innocent," Copeland said.
Bozarth said she gets satisfaction out of working with people who are involved with less serious crimes.
Guiomar Sapi was one of her clients. She co-signed a bond to help Sapi's boyfriend, who was arrested for driving with a suspended license.
“I got a call from him around 4:30 saying I need to call his mom or his sister," Sapi said. "I didn't know what to do and he told me his bond was 500 dollars and 50 dollars for a bondsman and I said what's a bondsman?"
That's when she met Bozarth.
"She's being very helpful and I am grateful,” Sapi said.