This is not bail reform, this is insanity

Last Wednesday, 37-year-old Omar Ursin went to pick up take-out for his family. Witnesses reported that as Ursin was driving down Medera Run Parkway in northeast Harris County, Texas, another car pulled alongside and fired one or more shots into Ursin’s car. When police arrived, they found Ursin had crashed into a tree in the median and was dead. The district attorney charged Ahsim Taylor and Jayland Womack, both 20, with Ursin’s murder.

Sadly, this would be all too common a story in Harris County as of late. Over the last two years, we have been averaging almost two murders per day in Harris County. But there are two details which make this crime stand out.

First, Ursin was a Precinct 3 constable deputy. He was off duty at the time. At this point, we do not know if his murder was related to him being a law enforcement officer.

Second, both Taylor and Womack were out on bail, pending trials for other felonies. Murder, to be specific. Taylor had been charged with capital murder because he killed someone during a robbery. Womack was charged with a killing that occurred during a drug deal.

Taylor’s bond was originally set at $220,000 by a magistrate, but Judge Amy Martin lowered it to $95,000. Womack’s initial bond was set by Judge Greg Glass at $35,000 but later increased to $75,000 because of violations of this pre-trial release. These bonds were granted by each of the judges, notwithstanding the substantial evidence against the accused.

Both defendants were able to make bond and were released from custody. Traditionally, bail bondsmen have required 10% to provide a bond. Because of increased competition, many bond companies have been discounting their fees. So, these two alleged murderers were able to secure their freedom for no more than about $18,000, and probably substantially less. As a result of them being out on bond instead of inside Harris County’s jail, Ursin’s 7-year-old daughter no longer has a dad.