Missouri lawmakers warily eye pre-trial bail rules after Kansas City mass shooting

Missouri lawmakers warily eye pre-trial bail rules after Kansas City mass shooting

(excerpt from Missouri Times - Oct 14 2019)

Javier Alatorre, one of the suspects in a mass shooting at a Kansas City, Kansas, bar over the weekend, has a history of run-ins with the law in Missouri. Just last month, he was before a judge in Jackson County who — despite a prosecutor’s warnings — granted the 23-year-old’s bond reduction request and released him on his own recognizance.

A month later, police say Alatorre is one of two men who walked into Tequila KC early Sunday morning and opened fire, killing four people and wounding five others.

In the wake of the shooting, some Republican lawmakers across the border are questioning the new bond rules set by the Missouri Supreme Court that went into effect in July. Those rules urged judges to consider non-monetary conditions of release first, unless deemed necessary for the public’s safety or to ensure an alleged offender will show up to a scheduled court appearance.

Republican state Rep. Justin Hill said judges’ decision to change the rules left him “furious” and he plans to file a bill in the upcoming legislative session to undo those changes.

“The court went around the welfare of the people of Missouri — and in this case some of the people of Kansas — they disregarded the welfare of the public to give this suspect the benefit of the doubt because of a monetary situation he or she may be in,” Hill told The Missouri Times. “It’s so offensive.”

As for Alatorre, Jackson County assistant prosecuting attorney Stephanie R. Sang attempted to block a bond reduction. She argued Alatorre posed a flight risk with a habit of skipping court appearances and fleeing from police. Additionally, Sang said Alatorre was a danger to the public.

He has a history of arrests in Missouri over the years, according to court records, from alleged possession of a controlled substance to resisting arrest to alleged traffic violations.

But still, Circuit Court Judge Kevin D. Harrell’s Sept. 9 order ignored the prosecutor’s warnings and allowed for Alatorre to be released on his own recognizance. He ordered Alatorre to submit to certain conditions, including random drug testing.

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