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FORT LAUDERDALE (CBSMiami) — The Broward Sheriff’s Office says undercover video captured Zhivago Walker trying to sell a stolen assault rifle to an undercover detective earlier this month. BSO says Walker — a convicted felon — was arrested and skipped out on his bond. They consider him armed and dangerous.
“It is very scary,” said BSO Spokesperson Dani Moschella. “He’s a dangerous guy and we are looking for him.”
But according to the Broward State Attorney’s Office, it was the court’s bond schedule that allowed Walker to post a bond and walk free. Prosecutors said even though Walker was already out of jail on two separate convenience bonds, the court system in Broward County allowed him to get a third convenience bond after his latest run-in with law enforcement.
Wilton Manors Police Chief Paul O’Connell is the president of the Broward Police Chiefs Association. He wants to see the bond schedule changed. O’Connell says convenience bonds have been in place for years to ease the burden on the jail and court systems by making it convenient for people facing criminal charges to bond out without having someone review their criminal history and without standing before a judge.
O’Connell says the current system is broken.
“There are some crimes that are committed that maybe a judge needs to take a long hard look at this person’s — not just the charges this person’s facing — but the history that this person has in place,” O’Connell told CBS 4’s Carey Codd.
Prosecutors said a person arrested for a large number of charges including most Murder offenses, most Sexual Battery offenses, DUI Manslaughter, Aggravated Child Abuse and Human Trafficking could currently qualify for a convenience bond in the Broward criminal justice system.
O’Connell says he can understand if the public is outraged.
“I think the public would be surprised and that they would be disappointed in the system,” O’Connell said. “I think we’ve reached a breaking point now.”
Consider the case of Dan Holmes. Prosecutors say the sexual offender was arrested for failing to report his sex offender status and that he was released on a convenience bond. Prosecutors say less than three weeks later Holmes was charged with murder.
Consider the case of Gregory Moore, accused by the FBI of three armed carjackings and a murder in Broward County last December. Published reports indicate that Moore was released on a convenience bond just hours before his rampage.
O’Connell said at the moment there is no review of a person’s criminal history or other bonds they might have once they are arrested and booked at the county’s jails. A person is only held without bond, O’Connell says, if they’re charged with a capital crime like murder, have a probation violation, have an immigration issue or there are questions about their true identity.
O’Connell said work has been ongoing on this issue for about 18 months and there is a strong push to reform the system from prosecutors, police chiefs, the Broward Public Defender’s Office and Broward Chief Judge Peter Weinstein.
This is what O’Connell said he’d like to see: “For misdemeanors — convenience bonds,” O’Connell said. “For felonies involving any crime of violence — go before a judge.”
But that did not happen in the case of Zhivago Walker and now BSO says he is on the run.
It appears a major change in the system may be forthcoming.
The Chief Judge and Court Administrator here in Broward released this statement saying, “The 17th Judicial Circuit has been working on a significant revision of our court’s bond schedule, in collaboration with the State Attorney’s Office, the Public Defender’s Office, chiefs of police, Broward Sheriff’s Office and conflict regional council. It’s been a very involved project, with a thorough review process, and the court will be issuing a modified bond schedule shortly.”