News 4 Investigates: Woman who cut off ankle monitor allowed to remain on bond after shooting at teenagers
ST. LOUIS (KMOV) -- A St. Louis judge let a woman seen on surveillance video shooting at teenagers outside a downtown school remain on bond even though she admitted in court to cutting off her ankle monitor and throwing it away.
Cierra Wealleans, 20, is facing multiple felony charges. She is accused of shooting at a group of teens outside Confluence Preparatory Academy in December 2022.
News 4 Investigates obtained video of the shooting which shows Wealleans walking into a street filled with school buses and students, and firing at several teenagers while the school principal tries to get the gun away.
Wealleans was initially denied bond. Within a week of her arrest, Judge Clinton Wright released Wealleans on a sponsored personal recognizance bond and put her on 24/7 GPS monitoring.
Court records show Wealleans violated her bond multiple times because her GPS monitor battery died.
On January 24, 2023, court records show Wealleans broke her bond because of a “strap tamper.” News 4 learned Wealleans cut off her ankle monitor and threw it away.
In the City of St. Louis when someone breaks bonds, a notice of the violation is sent to the prosecutor, the defense lawyer, and the judge.
Recent reporting by News 4 Investigates exposed how Wealleans stayed off the grid for almost a month. That changed last week when prosecutors filed a motion to have her bond revoked. The day after that filing, Wealleans got a new ankle monitor put on.
Judge Rochelle Woodiest scheduled Thursday’s hearing to determine if Wealleans could stay out on bond. Cameras weren’t allowed inside the courtroom.
During the hearing, Wealleans’ defense lawyer Nick Zotos claimed Wealleans cut her monitor because she was on a sponsored bond, got kicked out of the house she was staying in by the dad of the person who was sponsoring her and didn’t feel safe.
Zotos noted that Wealleans had difficulty getting a new ankle monitor. He claimed the private company the city contracts with for monitoring, Total Court Services, twice wouldn’t give Wealleans a new ankle monitor.
“I was assuming they were upset because she threw away their property,” Zotos told the judge.
Prosecutors argued Wealleans shouldn’t be free and called her a safety threat to the community. In the past week that Wealleans has had a new monitor, she violated her bond multiple times. Prosecutors pointed out those new violations.
Court records show all of those new violations were for a dead battery. Wealleans said she was charging her monitor and believed there was a problem with her device.
Judge Woodiest let Wealleans stay on bond and told her to leave the court and get her ankle monitor checked. Judge Woodiest added that future bond violations could be problematic.
Currently, St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner’s Office is facing heightened attention for how it handles cases and specifically bond.
In February, 21-year-old Daniel Riley was charged in a violent downtown crash. Riley is accused of hitting 17-year-old volleyball player Janae Edmonson causing her to have both her legs amputated. At the time of the crash, Riley was violating his bond for a 2020 armed robbery case. News 4 Investigates uncovered how Riley violated his bond over 100 times in two years.
Gardner claims her office tried to get Riley’s bond revoked at least three times during “oral motions.” Gardner has not provided proof of those motions, and News 4 Investigates uncovered court records showing prosecutors agreed to Riley’s bond on multiple occasions.
St. Louis University Law Professor Anders Walker recently told News 4 he thinks there’s good reason why there’s more attention on bond.
“The pendulum is swinging back so we went way in the direction of criminal reform, let everyone out now we’re starting to see the ramifications of that,” Walker said. “I think people are going to start getting tougher on crime.”
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