Ex Parte Ramirez

This case is not covered by Casetext's citator
Court of Appeals of Texas, Fourth District, San AntonioAug 18, 2004
No. 04-04-00248-CR. (Tex. App. Aug. 18, 2004)

No. 04-04-00248-CR.

Delivered and filed: August 18, 2004. DO NOT PUBLISH.

Appeal from the 81st Judicial District Court, Wilson County, Texas, Trial Court No. 04-03-0127-Cvw, Honorable Donna Rayes, Judge Presiding. Affirmed.

Sitting: Paul W. GREEN, Justice, Sarah B. DUNCAN, Justice, Sandee Bryan MARION, Justice.


MEMORANDUM OPINION


Anthony Ramirez has been arrested and charged with murder. He filed an application for writ of habeas corpus seeking a reduction in his pretrial bail from the original amount of $250,000.00 to $25,000.00. After a hearing, the trial court denied the reduction, and Anthony appealed. We affirm the trial court's order.

Standard of Review

We review the trial court's decision on the reduction of bail for abuse of discretion, taking into consideration the five factors outlined by article 17.15 of the Code of Criminal Procedure. Ex parte Dueitt, 529 S.W.2d 531, 532 (Tex.Crim. App. 1975); Ex parte Wood, 952 S.W.2d 41, 42 (Tex. App.-San Antonio 1997, no pet.); Tex. Code Crim. Pro. Ann. art. 17.15 (Vernon Supp. 2004). The defendant challenging the amount of bail has the burden to show the amount is excessive in light of the article 17.15 factors. Ex parte Rubac, 611 S.W.2d 848, 849 (Tex.Crim.App. 1981).

Background

Anthony is charged with the shooting death of his friend, Paul Guajardo, at the home of Anthony's grandfather. At the time of the bond hearing, Anthony had not been indicted. After the shooting, Anthony left Paul at the hospital and notified Paul's family that Paul had been shot, then disappeared for several hours, finally turning himself in to police with the assistance of an attorney. During the time police were searching for Anthony, his family denied officers access to the scene, cleaned blood and moved furniture at the scene of the shooting, and may have cleaned the alleged murder weapon.

Discussion

First, we must consider whether the bail set by the trial court is sufficiently high to give reasonable assurance that Anthony will appear for trial without the amount of bail becoming an instrument of oppression. See Ex parte Wood, 952 S.W.2d 41, 43 (Tex. App.-San Antonio 1997, no pet.). Anthony's ability to make bail may be considered but is not dispositive. See id. Anthony's grandfather was the only witness to testify regarding the family's ability to make bail. Willie Ramirez testified that he could only raise $2500.00 to contribute to bail. His home is appraised at $235,000.00, but he only bought the home three years ago and did not know how much he owed or what his down payment had been. Anthony's father lives in San Antonio but is presently laid off from his job. Willie Ramirez thought his grandson had been working but did not know the name of the company or what kind of salary he made. Willie Ramirez knew that Anthony quit high school in early 2003. He obtained his GED and enrolled in community college in the fall of 2003. Anthony's grandparents paid for his food, clothes, and school, with a little money for spending money. Willie Ramirez did not believe Ramirez had any bank account or assets. Anthony has lived with his grandfather most of his life. Willie Ramirez testified that if Anthony were released on bond, Anthony could continue to live with him or with Anthony's father. Although Anthony's grandfather is a long-time resident of Floresville, there was little testimony about Anthony's ties to the community that might prevent him from fleeing in the face of what could be a severe sentence. Next, we consider the nature of the crime and the circumstances under which it was committed. Anthony claimed the shooting was an accident. Officer Laughlin, an investigator with the Wilson County Sheriff's office, testified that, based on his experience and information provided to him by the medical examiner, he did not believe the shooting could have occurred as Anthony describes. Laughlin testified that Anthony's family obstructed the initial investigation, although they have apparently been more cooperative since then. Finally, we consider the safety of the community. Anthony has one past arrest for fighting. Officer Brenda Ullevig of the Floresville Police Department testified that she has a long history with Anthony in her capacity as officer assigned to the school. Anthony has a history of delinquent behavior, including drinking, fighting, and belligerence toward teachers and law enforcement. In high school, Anthony was enrolled in alternative school because of his disruptive conduct. When he failed to comply with the rules of alternative school, he was removed and placed in boot camp before he quit school. Officer Ullevig testified that Paul had provided information that Anthony was dealing drugs. Based on the officer's observation of Anthony's movements at the school after he quit attending, she was inclined to believe this information, but she had not been able to corroborate it. Anthony's grandfather did not seem to be aware of what Anthony was doing or where he was going even though Anthony lived in his home. He did not know how Anthony got a gun. Neither his grandfather or father seemed to have much influence on Anthony's behavior.

Conclusion

Based on the circumstances as outlined above, we hold the trial court did not abuse its discretion in refusing to reduce the amount of bail from $250,000.00. We affirm the trial court's order.