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Kidnapping, assault suspect released on $1 bonds back in court on new charge of threatening same victim

Aubrey Taylor kidnapped a woman he was dating, choked and "terrorized" her, court documents said. But Houston Judge Josh Hill set both his bonds at $1 each.

HARRIS COUNTY, Texas — A Katy man who was released from jail on two $1 bonds on charges of kidnapping and choking a woman he was dating was back in court Thursday on a new charge.

According to court documents, Aubrey Andre Taylor, 42, was arrested within days of his release last week after he threatened the same victim.

This time, Taylor's bond was set at $45,000 for the kidnapping charge and $15,000 for the assault charge. 

“Mr. Taylor does have convictions for violent offenses in his history, including a conviction for robbery -- he had two convictions for robbery -- and he also had a conviction for burglary of a habitation,” Magistrate Courtney St. Julian said.

She rejected the prosecutor's request for no bond because Taylor is "a lifelong resident" and "is indigent" so she didn't see him as a flight risk. St. Julian also granted the victim's request for a protective order.

Judge Josh Hill sets $1 bond

Taylor was originally arrested on Dec. 27 after the woman said he held her hostage, choked her and terrorized her. 

Taylor has a long rap sheet that includes two robbery convictions, a burglary conviction, theft and drug charges dating back to 2003.

When he appeared in Judge Josh Hill's courtroom on Jan. 13, Taylor was given two get-out-of-jail almost-free cards with the $1 bonds. Hill ordered him to house arrest and told him to stay away from the victim. 

Taylor was arrested again on Jan. 18 for violating those orders and threatening the victim.

'Sends a terrible message'

"Setting a $2 bond for an accused abuser is like letting a dangerous animal loose. Sadly, it also sends a terrible message to survivors that the criminal justice system could not protect them. The trauma of violence and the terror of kidnapping and stalking lead to a lifetime of emotional healing for a victim," trauma therapist Chau Nguyen said.

The story made national headlines and caught the attention of Texas. Gov. Greg Abbott.

"Repeat offender accused of beating woman gets $1 bond. Horrific," Abbott tweeted. "Texans must feel safe in their communities. This session, we will eliminate the easy bail policies that allow dangerous criminals back onto our streets."

Crime Stoppers victims advocate Andy Kahan said the case has caught his attention.

"If I’m a defense attorney and I have a client in the 232nd district court that’s currently in custody and charged with a violent offense – I’d be filing motions the next day saying I want the same deal you cut this guy for my client," Kahan said. "So where does it end?"

We reached out to Judge Hill for comment.

"Judicial ethics rules don’t let me comment on any case," Hill said.

Another judge, who isn't presiding over the case and can't comment on specifics, said he's seen bonds like this before.

“I have given a $1 bond on several occasions, I know many of my colleagues have," Judge Chris Morton said.

He said there's often a lot more going on in the courtroom than what people realize.

“We just follow the law as it’s laid out by the legislature," Morton said. "So when they say we can’t give a personal bond in these cases, we don’t. But wherever it’s appropriate to give a bond a person can make, if $1 is what it is, and generally the parties are going to agree, that’s what we do.”  

When asked about reports that Judge Hill did it to send a message about a new Texas law that bans judges from releasing violent criminals on a personal recognizance or PR bond, which means they don't have to pay anything. 

"I absolutely never said that. I believe I did a legal analysis of what the law does and does not permit," Hill said. "I’m not in the business of making political statements or advocating for or against legislation."

When the Democrat was running for reelection in November, he addressed the issue of low bonds for violent offenders in a long post on his Facebook page. 

"Judges don’t commit crimes:

Criminals do.

Judges don’t prevent crimes:

Police officers do.

Judges don’t get people out of jail:

Bail bonding companies do.

Judges don’t prosecute crimes:

Prosecutors do.

Judges don’t make the rules they’re sworn to uphold:

Legislators do." 

Read the full post:

Read to the end! Judges don’t commit crimes: Criminals do. Judges don’t prevent crimes: Police officers do. Judges...

Posted by Josh Hill for Judge on Thursday, November 3, 2022

Taylor is due back in court next Wednesday.

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