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Cameron v. State

Court of Appeals of Texas, Fourth District, San Antonio

December 18, 2013

Vanessa CAMERON, Appellant
v.
THE STATE OF TEXAS, Appellee

From the 379th Judicial District Court, Bexar County, Texas Trial Court No. 2010CR4286C Honorable Ron Rangel, Judge Presiding

Sitting: Catherine Stone, Chief Justice Karen Angelini, Justice Rebeca C. Martinez, Justice

ORDER

Rebeca C. Martinez, Justice

On September 18, 2013, this court issued an opinion and judgment reversing the appellant's conviction for murder. See Cameron v. State, No. 04-12-00294-CR, 2013 WL 5537636 (Tex. App.—San Antonio Sept. 18, 2013, pet. filed). On September 23, 2013, appellant filed a motion to set reasonable bail pursuant to article 44.04(h) of the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure. Tex. Code Crim. Proc. Ann. art. 44.04(h) (West 2006). In her motion, appellant suggests that bail be set at $50, 000. The State filed a response requesting that bail be set at $1, 000, 000, which was the original amount of appellant's pretrial bail before the amount was reduced to $100, 000.

Appellant is entitled to release on reasonable bail, regardless of the length of term of imprisonment, pending final determination of the appeal. Tex. Code Crim. Proc. Ann. art. 44.04(h). Because appellant made her request before a petition for discretionary review was filed, article 44.04(h) provides this court "shall determine the amount of bail." Id. On October 10, 2013, we abated the cause to the trial court and ordered the trial court to conduct a factfinding hearing and to enter findings of fact with regard to the factors we are to consider in determining the amount of bail. See Montalvo v. State, 786 S.W.2d 710, 711 (Tex. Crim. App. 1989); Aviles v. State, 26 S.W.3d 696, 698 (Tex. App.—Houston [14th Dist.] 2000, no pet). We directed the trial court to include any recommendations it had regarding a reasonable amount of bail. Two extensions of time to conduct the fact-finding hearing were requested and granted.

At the fact-finding hearing held on November 18, 2013, the trial court was presented with evidence that appellant: is a United States citizen; has lived in Bexar County for her entire life, aside from attending college in Austin and Houston; had continuously worked since the age of 15, but is currently incarcerated and unemployed; has been very involved in her family's church; and has family ties in the community, including a mother and stepfather, who live in Bexar County. Appellant also has a son to whom she voluntarily relinquished her parental rights, but he lives with her parents and she talks to her son often. In addition, appellant does not have any prior criminal convictions; she has always complied with the conditions of her previous bond and while free on bond attended every trial court proceeding; and she has no other criminal charges pending or other outstanding bonds. The State did not contest appellant's close ties to her family or the community, but noted that appellant also has out-of-state connections.

The defense argued that the acquittal of appellant's co-defendant, Bernard Brown, would affect the State's ability to re-try appellant with the same evidence used in the prior trial; the State contended that there was no impediment to retrying appellant, and that the evidentiary problems in Brown's case did not appear in appellant's case. Both sides also disagreed as to the likelihood of this court's decision being overturned by the Court of Criminal Appeals. The State urged that it was highly likely that the Court of Criminal Appeals would grant the State's petition for discretionary review considering that the reversal of appellant's murder conviction included a "strong" dissenting opinion.

The State did not request any particular amount of bail at the conclusion of the hearing, but urged the court to set a very high bail amount considering the serious nature of the offense and the egregious allegation that appellant arranged the murder of the father of her young son in order to collect life insurance proceeds.

The trial court took notice of the court's file, including the fact that appellant was convicted of murdering her former boyfriend who was the father of her young son by hiring a third party to commit the murder and was sentenced to 70 years' imprisonment. The trial court, however, did not make any recommendation about the appropriate dollar amount of bail pending the State's appeal of the reversal of appellant's conviction.

Having considered the written motion for bond and response, the record of the factfinding hearing conducted in the trial court, the trial court's findings, and the relevant factors regarding bail in this situation, it is ORDERED that appellant's motion for reasonable bail pending final determination on appeal is GRANTED and the bail is set at $100, 000. It is further ORDERED that any sureties on the bail must be approved by the ...


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