By Mary Chappell
About a dozen family members of crime victims gathered Saturday afternoon outside the Leighton Criminal Courthouse in Little Village to demand judges stop releasing people accused of violent crimes on bond.
Some attendees held signs with photos of their loved ones, who they said had been killed by people who were on bond while awaiting trial in other cases.
Police Supt. David Brown has repeatedly complained that the county’s courts release too many people charged with crimes of violence on bond and rely too much on electronic monitoring.
In response, Chief Judge Tim Evans has said there is no data to support those claims, and cited a 2020 Loyola University study on the impact the state’s bail reform measures have had on crime as proof.
“Speculation based on isolated cases is not the same as reality based on a complete picture,” Evans said in a statement after a violent July 4 holiday weekend in the city.
Nortasha Stingley, who lives in Englewood, said Saturday at the gathering that the man accused of killing her daughter, Marissa Boyd-Stingley, in a 2013 drive-by shooting was an example of someone who shouldn’t have been given a bond while he awaits trial.
“I just really want to ask some of these judges, what if it was your child? What if the shoe was on the other foot?” Stingley said.
Boyd-Stingley was 19 and in college with plans to become a pediatrician.
Reginald Reed, 44, was charged with the shooting last fall and his bail was set at $150,000 with electronic monitoring, meaning he would need to post $15,000 to be released with a GPS bracelet on home confinement while awaiting trial.
Defendants in murder cases are often denied bail in Cook County, but Judge Charles Beach noted during Reed’s initial hearing that prosecutors’ key evidence in the case — a witness identification four years after the shooting — was “weak.”
Judges make several determinations when setting bail, including the likelihood of the defendant’s conviction, if they will show up for their court hearings and whether they pose a danger to the community. Judges say they must balance the allegations against a person’s right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty.
Court records show Reed wasn’t on bond at the time Boyd-Stingley was killed and hasn’t been charged with any new offenses in the months since his bail was set.
Another mother, Nikki Swoboda, spoke to the crowd about her son, Julian Castillo, who was beaten and fatally shot in February, allegedly by two reputed gang members.
Swoboda said judges who let accused criminals out on affordable bonds contributed to her 16-year-old son’s murder.
One of the men charged with Castillo’s killing, 21-year-old Jesus Moro, was on bond with a charge of aggravated discharge of a firearm at the time, court records show.
Both men charged with Castillo’s death are currently being held without bail.
“These judges won’t be getting my vote, at all,” Swoboda said. “You killed my son, you were a contribution to why my son is not living right now. He was a child… This is not normal and the city should not accept this as being normal. This needs to stop.”
Opponents of the cash bail system say it allows those with money to go home while keeping those who can’t afford to post bond in custody, sometimes for years while their case winds through the busy court system.
State lawmakers voted in February to do away with the state’s cash bail system in 2023.
Editor’s note: A previous version of this story reported the wrong year the Loyola bail reform study was released. It has been corrected.
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