No Bail for Year for Defendant Charged with Attempted Murder – Judge Sets $600,000 Bail

CABy Hongyi Wen

SACRAMENTO, CA – Is $600,000 bail for attempted murder a reasonable amount for a defendant not convicted of the crime?

Sacramento County Superior Court Judge Michael Sweet decided last Friday $600,000 was reasonable, over the objections of the defense attorney for defendant Walter Washington.

With a charge of attempted murder, Washington’s case had been set for no bail previously and he has been in custody for a year now.

But Friday, Washington and his defense attorney David Bonilla filed a bail motion asking for the court to set an amount for bail.

Deputy District Attorney Samuel Alexander explained to Judge Sweet, “I am not sure why bail was set as it is other than that is the scheduled amount. Mr. Washington is charged with attempted murder…”

Judge Sweet interpreted, “I don’t think that is a no bail offense.”

Alexander insisted, “I was looking at the bail schedule from 2018 your Honor, and murder is no bail and anything attempted is the same as the underlying crime.”

From the YouTube live streaming, the defense attorney Bonilla was seen shaking his head in disapproval.

Alexander added, “In this particular instance, Mr. Washington participated with his co-defendants in an extremely dangerous shooting, three defendants fired multiple shots in the middle of the day at 7:30 p.m.,” indicating how dangerous the shooting was for the minors on the street and the three victims’ injuries.

“There were a lot of minors on the streets…one of the persons was shot in the back and had surgeries to remove the bullet, one of the minors who was shot still has a slug in his leg that was unable to be removed, another person was grazed.

“There were other minors that were playing in the area who luckily weren’t shot but were put in extremely dangerous situations,” Alexander argued.

“Mr. Washington is an admitted gang member. So based on all these facts, based on the dangerousness he posed during this incident, I think the bail is appropriately set at no bail. If your Honor is going to set bail, I would ask for something in the range of $600,000, which is what his co-defendants selected,” Alexander concluded.

Defense attorney Bonilla objected to setting the amount the same as other co-defendants as inappropriate, because what Washington had allegedly committed is less severe than other co-defendants. And, “His co-defendants actually have more charges, more offenses, even unrelated to this.”

Judge Sweet raised the question, “Does the co-defendant have a similar record?”

Bonilla answered, “From my interpretation and everything that the co-defendant is facing, it is definitely more serious (than his previous) nature of offenses…I don’t exactly know how Mr. Walter Washington got set at no bail; it is not a capital offense.”

Bonilla cited California’s Constitution in the bail motion and pointed out that attempted murder cases have bails set on them routinely in the past, as he disagreed with the DDA’s statement that attempted murders are considered no bail.

While willing to negotiate a bail amount that comports with the court, Bonilla conveyed that setting the bail at $600,000 is the same as no bail, arguing, “Setting an amount that is so high that it is basically unattainable puts it at equivalent with no bail.”

Although Washington is disputing the attempted murder charges, Bonilla stated that Washington is willing to cooperate with the court and put on devices like an ankle monitor to ensure public safety.

“He is disputing that he was even involved in that (the crime).” Bonilla added, suggesting a $350,000 bail, maintaining that the amount is still high but still attainable for Washington.

Judge Sweet also questioned why Washington is held on a witness warrant. DDA Alexander explained that, while this case was still being investigated, Washington was sentenced to prison for another case in which he pleaded guilty for being a gang member.

The witness warrant is meant to transfer Washington from state prison to the Sacramento County Jail to be physically present for this current case.

Judge Sweet set the bail at $600,000 because of the seriousness of the incident and said that the amount “doesn’t seem to scream no bail.” Judge also withdrew the witness warrant hold since Washington is physically here in Sacramento County Jail now.

The court is scheduled for a preliminary hearing March 24.

Hongyi Wen is a junior at UC Santa Cruz majoring in Sociology. He is from Guangzhou, China.

 


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