MIDLAND, Texas (KMID/KPEJ)- According to family and friends of slain Midland woman, 20-year-old Madeline Pantoja, the man accused in connection with her death has asked the court for a reduction in bond. 24-year-old Mario Chacon Jr., has been charged with Murder- he’s been in custody in the Midland County Detention Center since May 20 and is being held on a $3,000,000 bond- for now.
The family says it was informed by the District Attorney’s office Wednesday night that Chacon would be in court Thursday, asking for a lower bond. The family asked for people in the community to join them this morning outside the courthouse to protest that request.
Pantoja’s mother, Lupe Molina, wrote an impassioned plea on Facebook Wednesday that reads, in part:
“I dare to write this amidst our grief of having our daughter taken away from us and I feel so betrayed to hear that the culprit in my daughter’s death is being helped to reduce his bail so he can go free. I ask any family father to put a hand on their heart and give your opinion what you think if this was your case? This time it was Madeline and later on it (can) be any other young girl who meets the wrong person…This is why I fail to understand why justice works this way? To all of us who are parents, is this fair…As we pray for the eternal rest of our daughter the guilty will walk free without remorse…To the authorities responsible for this case, I ask you: (If it were) one of your daughters, would (you) act differently?”
On Thursday morning, about 50 people gathered outside the courthouse wearing homemade t-shirts and holding signs asking the court not to lower Chacon’s bond.
How is bond determined in Texas?
If the defendant posts a bail bond, the court will release him, or her, pending trial. In Texas, every court has a bond schedule that guides the judges on bail, depending on the type of crime.
However, judges are free to adjust the amount, depending on the case. Judges normally adhere to standard practices, for example, setting bail in the amount of $500 for nonviolent petty misdemeanors. However, judges can raise or lower the standard bail, or waive bail altogether and grant release on the defendant’s “own recognizance,” based on the circumstances of an individual case.
The common factors that the court uses to determine the bail amount are:
- The severity of the case
- Whether the defendant was out on bail during the arrest
- Whether the defendant may be a risk to society
- Whether the defendant has prior criminal convictions
- Whether the defendant is on probation due to another crime conviction
- Whether the defendant is considered a flight risk
After the court has set the bail amount, the defendant has the right to ask for a reduction. In such a case, the court holds a bail hearing to decide whether to reduce it. The defense lawyer can help the defendant get a reduction by arguing that the defendant is not a flight risk.
If a defendant is a resident of Texas, has a job, does not have a passport, and has never been out of Texas, the court may determine there is no flight risk. However, if the defendant has no ties to the Texas community and can fly away when given bail, the bail amount may be set higher.
A bail bond is not an unconditional release from jail. The defendant must meet specific conditions to stay out of jail with a pending trial. Failure to appear to court on the set trial dates puts the defendant in trouble and the court will give orders for immediate arrest.
According to the court docket, Chacon’s hearing is set for 2:00 p.m. on Thursday.