A judge issued what could be a precedent-setting ruling Tuesday in Richmond County Superior Court when he decided the $30,000 bond keeping a teen in custody could be posted with property instead of cash.
Richmond County Sheriff Richard Roundtree had required cash to secure the bond set for 16-year-old Verdre L. Scott, who faces charges of felony murder and a weapon violation.
Scott was arrested after the Dec. 19 death of his friend, 16-year-old Martez S. Davis. Police have said Scott and Davis were in the midst of the armed holdup of another teen, James Gibbons Jr., 17, when Davis and Gibbons exchanged gunfire.
Defense attorney Tanya Jeffords mounted the successful challenge to Roundtree’s – and his predecessor, Ronnie Strength – interpretation of the state statute governing bonds set for criminal offenses. Jeffords convinced the judge that a full reading of the statute proves that a judge has the right to determine what’s needed to secure bond – property, cash or through a professional bail bondsman.
Speaking on behalf of the sheriff, attorney Charles Lyons told Judge James G. Blanchard Jr. that Roundtree wasn’t trying to overstep his authority. The law isn’t that clear on the issue, especially for non-lawyers, he said.
It appears that the judges should specify what kind of security is needed when setting bonds, Blanchard suggested.
Roundtree was attempting to make a statement to the community following a rash of violent, gun crimes earlier this year, Lyons said.
Cash bonds were also required for several young men facing charges of aggravated assault and gang activity.
Scott is on Blanchard’s Oct. 15 trial calendar. Jeffords told the judge she needed Scott out and actively assisting in preparing his defense.