CHARLOTTE, NC (FOX 46 WJZY) - Hundreds of violent suspects in Mecklenburg County have posted bond and are out of jail wearing electronic monitors while they await their next court dates. In some cases, the offenders cut their monitors and run. FOX 46 Charlotte investigates if the program is working.
The suspects wearing the electronic monitors are teenagers and adults. Their charges range from robbery to auto theft, and we even uncovered a judge giving a murder suspect bond, ordering him to wear a monitor upsetting the victim’s mother.
Tonya Evans says the court system failed her.
“Is it enough? Life is priceless. No, it’s not enough” Evans said.
Evans’ son Markas Vereen was shot and killed by his best friend, Ricco McHam Jr. on July 4, 2016. McHam shot Vereen and then shot himself in the leg to cover up the crime, according to prosecutors.
McHam later drove Vereen to Presbyterian hospital and crashed into the emergency room.
A judge gave McHam, a murder suspect and a convicted felon, a $200,000 bond, according to court documents.
McHam made bail and was court-ordered to wear an electronic monitor, but he cut it and went on the run for 15 days before police caught him.
FOX 46 Charlotte’s Robin Kanady asked District Court Judge Rickye McKoy-Mitchell, “If someone has a criminal history, and they’re charged with murder do you think they would be a candidate for an electronic monitor?”
“It would depend on what was going on. Usually you don’t see those necessarily,” McKoy-Mitchell answered.
McKoy-Mitchell was not the judge who gave McHam bond on the murder charge, and she can’t talk specifically about a case.
“What you usually will find is in those kind of cases where someone may be charged with murder or a significant assault matter is that you have an extremely high bond. You also have the electronic monitoring that comes almost as a package,” McKoy-Mitchell said.
McHam isn’t the only one to cut his monitor. On average ankle bracelets are hacked off about 80 times a year, according to CMPD.
Kanady asked Sgt. Stephen Iyevbele with CMPD, “If people are still cutting them off, why are we still using this system?”
“Because for the most part, it works. We have a high success rate. Like every other program out there, it’s not perfect,” Sgt. Iyevbele said.
Sgt. Iyevbele says the team pours through arrests records and recommends to judges which offenders would be good candidates for electronic monitors, if they post bond.
“It’s not a tool that allows people to get out of jail. It’s just an extra layer of security.”
The electronic monitor didn’t work in McHam’s case. Once he was re-arrested and sent back to jail, he ended up pleading guilty to involuntary manslaughter, getting three to five years in prison for killing his best friend.
“Having my son for 19 years was not enough, so there’s no way in hell three years will ever be enough. Never,” Evans said.