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Top San Jose Officials Blast Bail Policies After Murder Suspects Released While Awaiting Trial

SAN JOSE (KPIX 5) – Top San Jose officials, including Police Chief Anthony Mata, are sounding the alarm about bail policies after three murder suspects were released awaiting trial, saying it puts the community at risk.

"These circumstances are being treated as low level incidents and they're not, these are homicides," said Chief Tony Mata. "These were lives that were taken."

Mata, along with San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo and Santa Clara County District Attorney Jeff Rosen, expressed concern over the release of the homicide suspects under a new law that allows judges to grant zero cash bails for those who can't afford to pay them.

The California Supreme Court had ruled "the common practice of conditioning freedom solely on whether an arrestee can afford bail is unconstitutional."

But the consequence victimizes the community as well as homicide victims' families all over again, Mata said.

"This is a danger to the community, it sends the wrong message to the community, to our officers and most importantly, to the victim's family that this crime is not being taken seriously by the system," said San Jose Police Assist. Chief Paul Joseph.

On Tuesday, police confirmed Oscar Medina Soto was granted the Supervised Own Recognizance Program, or SORP. He was released from jail after allegedly fatally shooting a man on the 2300 block of Mammoth Drive on Jan. 10th.

Medina Soto was trusted by a judge to stay in Santa Clara County before his trial, however, police said he instead fled to Mexico. Investigators are currently trying to track his whereabouts.

Last month, Alfred Castillo and Efrain Anzures also walked out of jail after being charged for allegedly shooting and killing a man who crashed into them. Their defense attorney told KPIX 5 that the shooting was self-defense.

San Jose Released Murder Suspects
(L-R) Alfred Castillo, Efrain Anzures, Oscar Medina Soto. (San Jose Police Department)

All three suspects were granted no cash bail. Castillo was granted SORP and Anzures is currently on house arrest.

"I know that we are all for reform, but this is not reform," Chief Mata said.

LaDoris Cordell, who was once a Superior Court Judge, said judges take in a multitude of factors when deciding bail, including criminal history and whether someone is a flight risk. Now they must also weigh-in the zero bail law.

"We don't know all of the facts," Cordell told KPIX 5. "Believe me that every judge who considers bail and makes a decision about bail on a case absolutely has that going on in the back of their heads, 'If I do this, is this coming back to haunt me.' However, you can't as a judge make decisions just based on that. You can't do it out of fear."

Cordell said San Jose police were "out of line" when they tweeted Tuesday that "the criminal justice system believes (Anzures and Castillo) are fine out of custody without bail" and that "the system failed."

"If police officers are going to put this out they need to put all of the information out and that's not what they're doing," Cordell said. "They're putting that they're unhappy. Well, that's not their purview, and in my view they have no business doing that."

Rosen released a statement Tuesday that said "defendants facing murder charges are a danger to the community and a flight risk and should not be released."

Liccardo also said in a statement, "I appreciate the purpose of bail reform, but releasing a homicide suspect without bail is outrageous. The pendulum has swung too far, and it's our neighborhoods that endure the most crime that suffer as a result."

The release of the homicide suspects as a result of the bail reform law, Mata said, surprised them.

"The judges are probably following, to the best of their belief, what the law compels them to do," Joseph said. "But if that's what it compels them to do then the law needs to be changed. There's a problem with the law."

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