YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) — Citing a recent Ohio Supreme Court decision on bond, a Mahoning County Common Pleas Court judge Friday reduced bond for a man accused of shooting four people at a West Side apartment complex, killing one of them.
Judge John Durkin said that the $800,000 bond given to Marquez Thomas, 24, of North Glenellen Avenue, is unconstitutional under both the state and United States constitutions because he is effectively being detained without bond because he can not afford to post it.
Bond for Thomas was set at $150,000 with electronic house arrest should he post it and an order barring him from having any contact with the victims in the case or their families.
The case is believed to be the first in Mahoning County that cited the Supreme Court decision, Dubose v. McGuffey.
Thomas is accused of a shooting about 1:15 a.m. Dec. 27 in the parking lot of a Tyrell Avenue apartment complex that killed Joseph Addison, 42, and wounded three others. He faces a charge of aggravated murder and three counts of attempted murder.
Police are also seeking his sister, C’Mone Thomas, 22, who is also charged with aggravated murder.
Judge Durkin said he based his decision on a 4-3 ruling in January in the state supreme court that said bond is a way to ensure that someone appears for court and excessive bonds are unconstitutional.
The supreme court decision stemmed from a suspect in a 2020 Hamilton County murder, Justin Dubose, 26, who appealed his $1.5 million bond, calling it unreasonable and unconstitutional. The Su[preme Court upheld a First District Court Of Appeals ruling that reduced the suspect’s bond from $1.5 million to $500,000.
The panel pointed to a clause in the state’s criminal code that said judges should use the least restrictive conditions to make sure a defendant appears at future hearings in court.
Dubose had claimed that the bond was unconstitutional because he had limited resources, had no prior felony criminal record and also had ties to the community.
Thomas’ attorney, Lynn Maro, also cited the ruling in asking for her client’s bond to be reduced from $800,000, which was set at his Jan. 3 arraignment in municipal court before the case was bound over to a grand jury, to $100,000.
Maro said her client is indigent and she was appointed by the court to represent him, which means he does not even have money to pay for an attorney, let alone a high bond.
Thomas has no prior felony criminal record and in his two misdemeanor cases, he never missed a court date, Maro said. Maro said he has lived in the area his entire life, has family in the area and his girlfriend and mother check in with her regularly on the case and he was working as a welder before he was arrested.
Anticipating arguments from Assistant Prosecutor Nick Brevetta that her client was guilty of the crime, Maro said that has to be proven by a jury.
“As he sits here today no matter what the prosecutor says, Mr. Thomas is presumed innocent of these offenses,” Maro said.
Brevetta said that under the Ohio Revised Code, a judge is allowed to take into account the safety of the community when determining what the amount of bond should be. In the Thomas case, Brevetta said Thomas is seen on video committing the crimes he is charged with and he had access to a firearm.
Brevetta said that judges can also take into account the weight of the evidence when setting bond. Thomas was seen on video carrying out the shootings and that evidence is compelling, Brevetta said.
“I could ask for better evidence, but that would be a confession,” Brevetta said.
Brevetta also pointed out that despite Thomas’ claims he has family support, there were no family members at his hearing. The victims in the case were also notified, as state law requires, and they were not present either. Thomas also has an incentive to flee because if convicted, he could spend the rest of his life in prison, Brevetta said.
Judge Durkin said bond is to ensure a defendant appears for court hearings, and that the supreme court decision emphasized that aspect of bond.
The Supreme Court also said that public safety is not a “consideration with respect to the financial conditions of bail” but the court said other restrictions that are not financial — such as banning a defendant from contact with certain people or travel — can be utilized to ensure public safety.
The judge said the decision “makes it clear that an $800,000 bond is in effect an order of detention” and unconstitutional under the state and United States constitutions.
Court records show Thomas has a March 8 pretrial date and a trial date of March 14, which will almost certainly be pushed back.