Road-rage murder suspect’s release prompts questions about bond process

The prime suspect in a case in which a Wichita grandmother died after being shot in an apparent road-rage incident was able to bond out of jail.
Published: Sep. 5, 2023 at 6:40 PM CDT
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WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) - The prime suspect in a case in which a Wichita grandmother died after being shot in an apparent road-rage incident was able to bond out of the Sedgwick County Jail. Daryon Boone, 19, was held on a $500,000 bond and with that, many wonder why he’s out of jail and how he was able to afford bail.

The case from late Friday night garnered a lot of attention when Wichita police discussed what their investigation revealed, leading to Boone’s arrest. Norma Williams, 69, died after police said Boone fired two shots into the pickup in which Williams was a passenger. Boone bonded out after police arrested him on a first-degree murder charge.

Sedgwick County Sheriff Jeff Easter said Boone is the latest case in an uptick of people bonding out of jail on serious charges, able to do so with bail bond companies requiring small amounts to get out. When it comes to bonds, there is a lot of discretion on the part of judges in determining the bonds set and for bail bond companies to determine the premiums to charge people to get out of jail.

Following an arrest the process is first in the hands of a judge.

“It really is supposed to be a case by case basis that you’re supposed to look at the situation, with the idea that what you’re trying to judge is how much, if you’re the judge, it’s, ‘What amount can I set that will ensure that this person, rather than forfeiting, will show up to trial,’” said Washburn University School of Law Interim Dean and Professor Jeffrey Jackson.

The judge has the ability to deny a bond if the defendant presents a danger to the community. Jackson said the factors a judge considers include the severity of the crime and additional conditions.

While judges can evaluate cases as they see fit, State Rep. John Carmicheal (D-Wichita) - a retired attorney - said there are other factors that can impact this.

“The situation with overcrowding in county jail, we still have people in jail who were arrested during COVID who have not yet gone to trial as well just the verging violent crime in our community, means in many instances there no space in the jail for the people a judge may well want to put in jail,” said Rep. Carmichael.

Kansas doesn’t have laws specific to what a judge sets bond or what percent a bail agent charges to get someone out.

“Just like insurance or any other sort of insurance, we underwrite the bond,” Professional Bail Agents of the United States President Topo Padilla said. “As bail bondsmen, we don’t have a computer that we put the data in and it kicks out the premium you should charge, like car insurance. We, in fact, look at the case, look at the defendant. We look at who is going to be our indemnitor, whether it’s a family member or friend.”

The Professional Bail Agents of the United States represents the bail bonds industry. Padilla said there’s no national industry standard for what percentage needs to be paid of the bail to bond someone out. In the end, he explained, it comes down to a business decision but added that it’s after considering factors of criminal history, previous court appearances, the crime in question and what is needed to make sure the person trying to bond out will be back in court.

“I promise you great scrutiny was taken when looking at this bail bond and fortunately, in the United States of America, we have a standard that you’re innocent until proven guilty,” Padilla said, referencing Boone’s case.

12 News also spoke with the Kansas Bail Agents Association about the process. The group said generally, a 10% premium is charged and premiums as low as 1% are uncommon.

A few years ago, a Kansas Judicial Branch task force released nearly 20 recommendations after studying pretrial releases including looking at finding a balance between a defendant’s liberties and public safety.