Questions Raised About Plano Suspect's Bond Amount

By: Kristen Ross Email
By: Kristen Ross Email

He's accused of driving more than three hours to have sex with a child. A day later, he's free.

Plano minister Joe Barron, 52, didn't spend a lot of time in Bryan, he was arrested as soon as he arrived. He also didn't spend much time in the Brazos County jail where he easily made bond.

Since Barron's bond was set at $7,000 last week, many have questioned why the bond was set so low. However, when it comes to understanding how judges set bonds District Attorney Bill Turner says there are several things that are considered.

The first, is the safety of the community. One must ask if the person arrested poses a threat.

Next up, what are the ties the defendant has to the area? Prosecutors say a person with a strong connection to the community is much more likely to show up for court.

Also, the safety of the victims plays a big role.

"Sometimes you may be talking about different criminal history because that may affect the bond schedule. Sometimes the number of counts can affect that decision as well," Turner said.

Out of the 12 men who have been arrested by Bryan police for online solicitation of a minor the bonds have varied greatly.

You have one hit with a $40,000 bond and another given a $60,000 bond. Then there are last week's arrests. Christopher Kazmierski was given a $9,000 bond and and Joe Barron was released on a $7,000 bond.

So why the discrepancies?

"Online solicitation is a fairly new offense and I think that as you see more and more of these cases filed you'll see a more consistent approach to it," Turner said.

The charge of online solicitation of a minor has only been on the books since mid 2005. That's why some say the variance in the bonds is so great. Turner says they are trying to work out the kinks.

"I know currently within the last day or two they( JP's) have decided they need to meet and see if they can get a more uniform bond schedule for these types of crimes," Turner said.

Turner says there isn't a certain dollar range now when setting a bond for a charge of online solicitation of a minor.

However, he did add that justices of the peace are cautioned to not be unusually cruel or high in what they set. The defense could then turn around and file a motion for habeas corpus: in other words a motion to get them some relief.

News 3 spoke to Judge Vera Lara-Hooge who says she set the bonds for both Kazmierski and Barron.

She says the bonds at this stage are not meant to punish the defendants, and that she took into account past criminal histories and probable cause statements.

Lara-Hooge says Barron had no criminal past. A search of Kazmierski's background though shows a theft charge from 2006.

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