BELTON, Texas (AP) — A Texas court official says the $4 billion bond she imposed on a suspect was meant as a jab to highlight that bonds are often set so high that defendants can’t get out of jail.
Bell County Justice of the Peace Claudia Brown said Friday that setting exorbitant bonds force too many people to remain in jail until trial. She called the trend “ridiculous.”
Brown said she wanted to impose a $100,000 bond on 25-year-old Antonio Marquis Willis, but that she was challenged by officials involved in the case. An irritated Brown then changed the amount to $4 billion.
A state district judge lowered the bond to $150,000 on Friday. Brown had acknowledged her bond amount could be seen as a constitutional violation.
Willis is charged with first-degree murder in the December shooting death of another man.
Willis’ original bond far exceeded the $3 billion amount set for New York real estate heir Robert Durst before an appeals court in 2004 determined it was unconstitutionally excessive and it was lowered to $450,000.
At the time, Durst had recently been acquitted of killing his neighbor while living in Texas. He was being held on related charges.
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