A Dallas County judge facing criticism after cutting bail for a murder suspect reversed course Monday night and increased bail in the case after news of the cut circulated.
Last week, Judge Chika Anyiam reduced Julio Guerrero’s bail by 75% – from $2 million to $510,000 – after his defense argued that Guerrero could not pay bail, according to court records. The reduction would have allowed Guerrero to post $51,000 cash bond for his release from Dallas County Jail.
But on Monday night, Anyiam raised bail on the murder charge to $600,000 after “further review and reassessment of the case,” according to court records. The cancellation brought Guerrero’s bail total to $1.1 million.
Guerrero was jailed in June for murder and multiple counts of aggravated assault in connection with the fatal May 2 shooting of Francisco Villanueva Rodriguez, 35, in Far East Dallas, as well as a shooting at a gas station of Oak Cliff. week that injured a 3-year-old girl.
Dallas police said he also shot officers trying to arrest him on June 2 during an eight-hour standoff east of Oak Cliff. He turned himself in to police after the confrontation and was taken to the Dallas County Jail, where he remained Tuesday morning, according to jail records.
Anyiam could not immediately be reached on Tuesday for comment.
Tom Cox, Guerrero’s attorney, said The Dallas Morning News that “it remains to be seen” whether Guerrero will be able to pay bail with the judge’s cancellation.
He said Anyiam was following the law when it lowered bail because a person is presumed innocent until proven guilty, adding that the amount of bail is not supposed to be set so high. that he is keeping a person in prison. If bail were set at large amounts for each person, he said, the system would only allow the wealthy to post bail to get out of jail.
“People are upset, I think, because they assume Mr. Guerrero is guilty,” Cox said. “But if they view him as a guy who is just charged with these crimes, not convicted, I hope that helps people see that what this judge did was an appropriate balance between his rights and the safety of the community.”
Cox noted that Anyiam set other bail conditions with the reduction, including that Guerrero must remain under house arrest with an ankle monitor. He disputed claims that the judge made the original cut because he had donated to his campaign in the past.
Cox has given Anyiam $5,000 in campaign contributions since 2015, according to campaign finance reports. It is common and legal for lawyers to make such contributions.
From 2015 to 2021, Anyiam received contributions from around 400 donors, according to campaign fundraising reports. Cox’s contributions were among the largest, with $2,500 given to the judge in 2021, $500 in 2019, $1,000 in 2018, and $1,000 in 2015. Cox’s contribution in 2021 was listed as the largest gift. higher for her that year.
Cox, who owns a bond company, said he has made donations to many public officials and organizations he says are doing good work, including other judges and the nonprofit Friends of the Dallas Police. He said he makes less money when the bail is reduced, adding that it’s “more complicated” than saying the reduction in amount benefits him or his client.
In most cases, lawyers’ contributions to judges are also considered ethical. Many other lawyers have also been listed as donors to his campaign.
But the judge’s initial decision to cut Guerrero’s bail drew heavy criticism from Gov. Greg Abbott, de García, Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson and two Dallas police associations, among others.
Abbott called the move “outrageous” in a Tuesday tweet, adding that “this needs to be stopped” and that officials are working on “another law in the next session to protect communities from these criminals.”
It’s outrageous and it needs to stop.
Democrats voted against a constitutional amendment that would keep dangerous criminals like this behind bars.
We are working on another law in the next session to protect communities from these criminals. https://t.co/QcUtNZueCN
— Greg Abbott (@GregAbbott_TX) March 15, 2022
García told reporters on Tuesday that the judge’s decision was “a slap in the face” for police and victims.
“These are just reckless decisions that are made in the name of reform, which are not reforms – it’s reckless,” García said. “It doesn’t make our city safe.”
“I don’t buy this reform when it comes to a violent crime problem,” he added.
On Twitter, the leader also referenced a comment he made to the US Senate Judiciary Committee last month as he witnessed a national increase in carjackings.
During the hearing, García had blamed the national rise in violent crime on judges, who he said had “made irresponsible decisions in letting individuals out after committing acts of violence that have come back to hurt our communities.”
He later clarified after the hearing that he wasn’t talking about the Dallas judges, adding that he was representing the big city police chiefs who “also have problems with the judges.”
Johnson also weighed in on Twitter on Monday praising García for his comments, adding “we just need the rest of the Dallas County criminal justice system to do its part.” It’s not a game.”
The Dallas Police Association and the Dallas National Latino Law Enforcement Organization had also criticized the judge’s decision.
“The tax-paying citizens of Dallas County deserve better from their elected officials,” the Dallas Police Association said in a prepared statement. “This judge has a responsibility to protect citizens and keep violent criminals in jail. She failed miserably in lowering her bonds.
And at a press conference on Tuesday, George Aranda, president of the Dallas National Latino Law Enforcement Organization, denounced Dallas County Judge and District Attorney John Creuzot for the bail reduction, saying the association did not plan to endorse him in his 2022 re-election campaign. Creuzot takes on Republican candidate Faith Johnson in the election.
Creuzot responded in a written statement that he had “vigorously opposed the reduction” of Guerrero’s bond “at every stage of the process, and any assertion to the contrary is demonstrably false.” His office provided court records showing that prosecutors had filed a motion asking the judge to reconsider the bail reduction in the case.
“Notably, Dallas Police Chief Eddie García himself did not indicate that the DA’s office was at fault,” Creuzot said. “We don’t develop policy in consultation with police unions, and we understand very well what our responsibilities are in court.”
“As I’ve said many times, the prosecutor’s office doesn’t set bail, judges do,” he added.
Editor Maggie Prosser contributed to this report.