Judge denies Gilmer capital murder suspect's bond reduction request

Published on Tuesday, 7 January 2014 12:58 - Written by BY PHILLIP WILLIAMS, Special Correspondent

GILMER -- A state district judge today denied capital murder suspect Jonathan Ray Shepherd's request to reduce his $1 million bond to $250,000, and canceled an afternoon hearing that was scheduled on the motion, Upshur County District Attorney Billy Byrd said.

Judge Lauren Parish of the 115th District Court sent notice Tuesday morning to all parties that she was denying the motion, filed by Arlington attorney Gerald J. Smith Sr., who contended the bond was excessive, Byrd said. The judge gave no reasons for her ruling, said Byrd, who pronounced himself "happy" with the decision.

Byrd had recently said he would "adamantly" oppose the bond reduction request. He said Tuesday he presented no evidence before the ruling since he had planned to do so at the hearing which was canceled.

He also said Tuesday he has not yet decided whether to seek the death penalty. Under Texas law, capital murder is punishable only by lethal injection or life imprisonment without parole.

"We're a long ways away from a trial date because of all the evidence that has to be analyzed," Byrd told the Tyler Morning Telegraph. He said he expected "several months" of the prosecution and defense engaging in "discovery" of each other's evidence, and of laboratory analysis of evidence, and that he thus could not speculate on a trial date.

Shepherd, 32, of Gilmer, is charged with shooting 29-year-old Cheyenne Green of Gilmer in the parking lot of Gilmer High School the night of Sept. 26 during a junior high football game at nearby Buckeye Stadium.

Court records indicate the shooting occurred in the presence of their then-18-month-old son. Shepherd, who had reportedly been involved in a custody battle with Ms. Green, had reportedly been sitting with his estranged wife at the football game and had agreed to take the boy to Ms. Green at halftime.

Ms. Green was shot three times, according to Gilmer police Investigator Roxanne Warren.

Shepherd, who turned himself in within hours after the incident, remains in Upshur County Jail. Originally charged with murder, he withdrew his first request to lower his bond at an Oct. 1 hearing after the charge against him was upgraded to capital murder.

Byrd has said the charge was changed because Shepherd is accused of killing Ms. Green while kidnapping or trying to kidnap her. Under Texas law, a person can be convicted of capital murder if he/she kills someone in the course of committing another felony. Kidnapping and attempted kidnapping are felonies.