2012-05-02 / Front Page

County Judge reduces bond on defendant with 22 prior arrests


Manuel Sanchez Mata Manuel Sanchez Mata New bonds for two men who are behind bars at the Willacy County Jail were set last week by County Judge John F. Gonzales Jr. who described the hearing as a routine in his court.

Appearing before Gonzales were 45-year-old Henry Willam LeMaster, of Houston, and Manuel Sanchez Mata, 29, of Raymondville.

LeMaster was in jail for 28 days before Thursday’s hearing, while Mata, who was arrested March 21, was there for 36 days.

LeMaster was arrested for theft on March 29, and was in jail on a $40,000 bond. Mata was arrested on Mach 31 and was in jail on two $55,000 bonds.

Judge Migdalia Lopez, of the 197th state District Court, lowered LeMaster’s bond to a $1,000 cash surety bond and Mata to two $5,000 bonds on Tuesday, April 24.

But at Thursday’s bond hearing, Gonzales left LeMaster’s bond unchanged and lowered Mata’s bonds to $2,500 each.

David Coronado, an assistant prosecutor with the DA office, told Gonzales that Mata has been arrested 22 times.

“He was arrested the last time for making a terroristic threat and for marijuana possession,” he said.

He then asked LeMaster where he lives, and LeMaster replied he had no place to go and that he was staying at the place where he was working before he was arrested for theft.

Gonzales said he will leave LeMaster’s bond unchanged, and lowered Mata’s bonds to $2,500 each.

The two still are behind bars at the county, but the routine hearing caught the DA’s office off guard.

That was because Gonzales’ court was held the week before and having a hearing for two detainees wasn’t a typical day at court.

The DA office heard about the hearing on Wednesday afternoon and that was the first time the office knew that a hearing for just two defendants was about to take place.

‘We were caught off guard,” Bernard Ammerman, the district attorney, said. “I don’t even think there was a motion filed. This was out of the blue.”

Gonzales said he holds the bond hearings all the time even over the telephone.

He said the two detainees have been at the county jail for too long.

“I wasn’t going to let the man from Houston (LeMaster) out on a PR bond,” he said. “The local man (Mata) has numerous arrests, but he has to pay to get out of jail.”

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