News 4 Investigates checks court bond records after crash that injured teen

Published: Feb. 24, 2023 at 7:03 PM CST
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ST. LOUIS (KMOV) -- The downtown St. Louis crash that caused 17-year-old Janae Edmondson to lose both her legs is putting heightened attention on bond policies. The driver that caused the crash, Daniel Riley, was out on bond awaiting trial for a violent felony charge.

Riley was one of three men arrested in connection to an August 2020 armed robbery. He was placed on house arrest with a GPS tracker.

News 4 Investigates found Riley violated his bond more than 100 times. St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner claims her office tried to keep Riley off the streets.

“We have what’s called oral motions to revoke bond, those can be made orally or written, and in this jurisdiction, they are made orally and that is normal practice, and that was done in this case,” Gardner said during a press conference this week.

Gardner claims her office tried three times to revoke Riley’s bond. Gardner hasn’t shown proof of her office’s motions. She claims one of the times they objected to Riley’s bond was during an August 10, 2022, hearing.

News 4 Investigates checked court transcripts from that hearing, which show prosecutors agreeing to Riley being kept on bond with a GPS tracker. There are no objections from prosecutors noted in the court transcript.

“Anytime there would be any kind of a motion to revoke, I would demand that there be some kind of record made of it so court reporter would be taking it down,” explained St. Louis defense lawyer Mark Hammer, who worked as an assistant prosecuting attorney in Washington and Minnesota before moving to St. Louis.

News 4 Investigates checked St. Louis Circuit Court bond records. The most recent records available are from December 2022 and show that over six months, 373 people who were arrested and awaiting trial were released on bond. That’s well above the 292 people who were held in jail during the same time period.

Hammer says there’s a good reason for that: cases aren’t going to trial fast enough.

“If they’re able to get you in for a trial in six to nine months, the judges feel a lot less pressure about keeping you in custody,” Hammer added.

If someone breaks their bond, lawyers on the case get notified.

Retired St. Louis Police Sgt. James Dandridge says his son is the victim in the armed robbery case involving Riley. He told News 4 that prosecutors never told his family about Riley’s dozens of bond violations.

“If someone’s under house arrest and they violate that house arrest and they’re out, you should notify that victim and warn them that the suspect is out,” Dandridge said. “I truly don’t know what’s going on down there. How is this justice for my family, for my son?”