GARLAND, Texas - The man charged with murdering two sisters at Texas A&M-Commerce was released from jail days earlier, despite being on probation for his part in other violent crimes.
Many are now questioning how the bond for Jacques Smith was set.
Dallas County District Attorney John Creuzot said systemic problems in the criminal justice system allowed Jacques Smith to get out of jail on a low bond after his arrest on felony domestic violence charges.
Days after that arrest, Smith is accused of killing the woman police say he had badly beaten, along with her sister. A baby was also shot.
Dallas Police Association President Mike Mata said the murders of the two young women simply did not have to happen.
Deja and Abbaney Matts were killed, and Abbaney’s 2-year-old son was also injured, in the shooting by a man who police say has a violent criminal history, and who got out of jail just days earlier for domestic violence against one of the women who was murdered.
Sisters Deja (left) and Abbaney Matts (right) were killed in Monday's shooting at Texas A&M Commerce. Deja was a student and Abbaney would visit often, according to family. Abbaney’s son was also shot in the leg but survived.
The bond amount was set at $15,000, and he only needed 10 percent of that, $1,500, to be released.
Many are now asking, how this could happen?
“If we have individuals that have a history within a short amount of time, remember, we're talking three to four years here that he has committed violent, violent acts. And just beat his girlfriend with a frying pan, a lamp, and a TV, and held her at knifepoint, and he’s out on $1,500?” DPA President Mata said.
Mata said he’s angry at the low bond amount set by a Garland municipal judge who, to this point, has not commented on the decision.
“You have to look at this individual’s history,” he added.
“You arraign them based upon the information that you have in front of you,” said Victor Lander, who is not connected to this case.
Lander served as municipal court judge in Dallas for nearly 30 years, and in his role, he was also magistrate, and set bonds.
“Generally speaking, yes, you have access to the criminal history, and one would look at the criminal history, depending on the allegation that’s being brought against them this time,” Lander explained.
“This case is an example of what is going wrong in the criminal justice system. Not only in this county, but counties across the state,” District Attorney Creuzot said.
Creuzot agrees Smith's bond was set too low.
He said it happened because suburban magistrates don't have access to the same set of facts when they make a bond determination.
“They don’t have the facts we have. They don’t have the police reports. He’s been on probation. They don’t have the facts of what he’s done on probation, and so it’s ripe for a bad situation like this,” he explained.
It’s something the DA said he started planning to address before this incident.
“As of last week, my staff and I have been talking about getting all of the presiding municipal judges together here and having a meeting to discuss the problems, the systemic problems, and the kind of vulnerabilities that they're put a. The disadvantages of not having all of the information,” Creuzot explained.
Systemic problems that Mata said cost two sisters their lives.
“And we have a father who is burying two daughters and has a grandchild who has a bullet in his leg, because this man should have been in jail. And like I said, I’m so upset about this because those two people should not be dead,” he said.
Creuzot said he would also like to see possible video arraignments, with prosecutors and defense attorneys interacting with the judge, giving judges more information.
So appropriate bonds could be set around the clock.
That’s something he and the Mata agree on.