COLUMBIA, SC — A circuit court judge denied a former city park ranger’s request for a bond reduction even though his attorney argued that her client had been caught up in community outrage over the state’s bond system.
Judge Diane Goodstein told Orlando Reeves, 32, that she found nothing new in his case that would convince her to change another judge’s decision. But Goodstein issued a warning to the prosecutor that Reeves’ case needed to move forward and she would check on its status in January.
Reeves appeared in court Tuesday during a session where dozens of people were appearing on bond issues. At least a dozen people, including three police officers and three city council members, attended the session because of the Reeves case.
In at least one case, a defendant had been waiting since 2008 for his case to go to trial. That person was on bond but had his bond revoked after he was arrested earlier this fall on another charge.
Goodstein said she was concerned about such old cases lingering on the docket and the ramifications of leaving people in jail for years as they await an outcome.
“Obviously, that scares a judge to death,” she said, “because you don’t want them to not be able to bond out and sit in jail for five years.”
The Wednesday bond session illustrated the tension on both sides of the courtroom during a bond hearing. Bonds are meant to guarantee a defendant shows up in court for his hearings, and they should not be used as punishment. However, there is mounting public pressure to keep repeat, violent offenders in jail to minimize the risk they will commit crime while they await trial.
Judges must follow guidelines spelled out in state law but have discretion on amounts as they consider factors such as flight risk and threat to the community.
Reeves is being held in the Alvin S. Glenn Detention Center on two counts of first-degree burglary, two counts of larceny and making a false report of a stolen vehicle. He is accused of using his position as a city park ranger to scout homes to break into and for monitoring city radios to let other burglars know if police were on the way.
He has a prior record, including a conviction for involuntary manslaughter, according to court testimony.
He first was arrested for burglary in August 2012 after he was accused of breaking into a home and stealing more than $100,000 in antique and custom guns used to hunt large game. In that case, he was given a high bond, but it was lowered by Circuit Court Judge Casey Manning, who set it at $80,000, according to court records and testimony.
Reeves posted bond but was arrested on a second burglary charge in July 2013 in a case that was nearly a year old. Police obtained an arrest warrant for a July 2012 burglary after they said his DNA was matched to blood found at the scene. He allegedly stole a 12-guage shotgun in that burglary.
After that arrest, Judge Alison Lee set his bond at $200,000 and said he must pay the full amount, rather than the typical 10 percent, to be released. He has been in jail ever since.
On Wednesday, his attorney, Alicia Dyar Goode, argued that Reeves’ bond was excessive and was being used as punishment.
“It was bad timing this summer,” Goode said. “He was given that bond based on what was going on in the community at that time.”
Reeves’ July arrest came just as the community was responding to a high-profile murder case in which two of three suspects were on bond at the time of the crime. One of those men had been given a bond by Lee, who was presiding over Reeves’ bond hearing. As a result, many in the public were demanding reform to the state’s bond system, and Lee’s actions were coming under scrutiny, especially since she had been nominated for federal judgeship.
Reeves’ bond hearing Wednesday again drew public interest, as more than a dozen people came to show their support for his bond to remain at $200,000. Among those in attendance were one of his alleged victims as well as Interim Police Chief Ruben Santiago and Columbia City Council members Leona Plaugh, Moe Baddourah and Sam Davis.
Reeves’ family also took up a row in the courtroom as his attorney argued that he was needed at home to help raise his four children, including a 13-year-old who recently was diagnosed with a heart defect. She also presented a letter from a church that made a case in support of Reeves.
“He is just sitting down there at Alvin S. Glenn,” Goode said. “He can’t help.”
Reach Phillips at (803) 771-8307.