April 17, 2020
The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, the state’s highest criminal court, took the rare step on Friday of issuing an arrest warrant for a Houston fugitive and setting his bail at $100,000 after hearing that he was released on a $500 bail by a Harris County magistrate.
The Court of Criminal Appeals also ordered that Timothy Singleton could not be released on a personal recognizance bond.
The move comes after the Harris County District Attorney’s Office filed an unprecedented motion challenging a magistrate judge’s bond order on Singleton, a 31-year-old career criminal charged with aggravated assault.
“We have worked hard to keep the citizens of Harris County safe through this crisis by agreeing that non-violent defendants should be released from the jail, but the public needs protection from violent offenders accused of violent crimes,” said District Attorney Kim Ogg. “The ruling, and the urgency with which the Court of Criminal Appeals acted, shows that our concern for public safety has to be taken into account by our local judges.”
The Harris County District Attorney’s Office argued that magistrates and other judges cannot legally consider general concerns about the current COVID-19 outbreak to set bail amounts.
Timothy Singleton, 31, is now wanted by police after allegedly beating his ex-girlfriend and throwing her grandmother to the ground on Wednesday, just two weeks after he was released from jail on a $500 bail for pulling a gun on a man on March 31.
Prosecutors with the District Attorney’s office argued in magistrate court earlier this month that Singleton should not be released on a token bond because he was dangerous.
The District Attorney’s Office argued that a generalized concern about the outbreak should not allow public safety to be disregarded. Singleton did not present a specific health concern that would have placed him at higher risk of COVID-19 infection than any other member of the community.