Judge considers bond in sex offender slaying

CULLMAN, Ala. (AP) – A judge refused Thursday to reduce the bond amount for an Alabama man charged with murder in the gunshot killing of the sex offender convicted of abusing the man’s daughter.

Cullman County Circuit Judge Gregory Nicholas ruled after a hearing that a lower court judge presiding in the murder case must consider the bond before he can intervene.

The Associated Press isn’t using the suspect’s name to protect his daughter’s identity since she is a sexual abuse victim.

The man is charged with murder in the shooting death of Raymond Earl Brooks, 59, on June 8. He also is charged with attempted murder. Police say moments before the Brooks’ shooting, the man fired at a stepdaughter’s boyfriend, James Criscoe, outside a crowded store.

No one at the store was injured, but two witnesses said about 40 children were in the area because of a birthday party being held at a neighboring business.

Relatives and other supporters have praised the man’s actions as justified and even heroic by claiming he killed Brooks to protect his daughter who was abused. In court, some backers wore blue T-shirts that read “A father’s love is like no other” on the front.

Authorities haven’t said what exactly what sparked the shootings, which happened about 13 years after Brooks pleaded guilty to sexually abusing the man’s daughter while she was in elementary school.

Defense attorney Tommy Drake argued during the hearing that the man is indigent and can’t afford a cash bond now set at $141,000.

The man’s wife testified that they have only $250 cash, no property or investments, and can’t afford his release without bond reduction. Drake asked Nicholas to switch the bail to a property bond that could be signed by the man’s supporters in the community.

“A cash bail is no bail,” Drake said.

But District Attorney Wilson Blaylock argued against any reduction after two men who witnessed the shooting at the store testified they feared the suspect’s release.

“I think he is a real risk to the community,” Blaylock said outside court. “I want him in jail until we try him.”

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