Houston, TX – A capital murder suspect was left to wander around the community freely after his GPS bracelet was removed by the electronic monitoring company because he fell behind in payments.
Clint Walker, 27, has been accused of fatally shooting 59-year-old game room security guard Enrique Garcia during a robbery in 2016, The Eagle reported.
In June, Walker was released on $100,000 bond with the condition that he wear a GPS monitoring device on his ankle and pay for associated costs.
He was also required to be supervised by the Harris County Community Supervision and Corrections Department (CSCD), which had contracts with four different GPS device companies, The Eagle reported.
Walker chose to work with a company called Guarding Public Safety.
Three months after his release, Guarding Public Safety contacted the Harris County Pretrial Supervision Department (PSD), and told them that one of its employees removed Walker’s monitoring device because he was over $300 behind in his payments to the company, The Eagle reported.
But Walker wasn’t being supervised by the PSD – he was being supervised by the CSCD.
“My company sent several violations on Clint Walker to the Harris County Pretrial Supervision Dept. including his failure to charge his device as instructed resulting in no location and no communication,” Guarding Public Safety told KTRK. “His device went dead several times and we had no location and no communication with this defendant. Immediate notification was sent upon removal of his device."
Walker remained in the community unmonitored for approximately two weeks before he was arrested and returned to jail, KTRK reported.
“It effectively put our capital murder suspect more or less at large,” First Assistant District Attorney David Mitcham told the Houston Chronicle.
Walker also failed to show up for a court hearing during the same timeframe, according to The Eagle.
CSCD Director Teresa May said that Guarding Public Safety violated its agreement with the county by removing Walker’s bracelet without prior authorization.
“In over 20 years of doing this, I’ve never seen a vendor do this kind of violation,” May said, according to The Eagle.
The county’s contract with the company was immediately terminated in the wake of the incident, she confirmed.
“He’s out. He’s terminated,” she told the Houston Chronicle.
May said that she doesn’t believe Walker was trying to avoid GPS monitoring by not paying for the service, and said he’d made payments on time before, The Eagle reported.
“Defendants who decide that they want to run or abscond or not be monitored – they’re going to cut if off,” she noted. “They’re not concerned about all this.”
Garcia’s son, Hugo, said he didn’t know his father’s accused murderer had even been released from jail in the first place until just before he was arrested again on Wednesday, The Eagle reported.
“I have a wife of 13 years, one daughter, 10 years old,” Garcia said. “When I found out that he was on the possible run for being out on bond and getting his ankle monitor removed, it just kind of stopped my heart for a moment.”
“It’s not fair to me and my family to relive a nightmare like that,” he added. “We just need to know answers so that this kind of situation doesn’t happen again to another family.”
Mitcham said that there are currently approximately 173 accused murderers who are out on bond in Houston, KHOU reported.
“If they are required to wear a GPS device, we want that condition of bond maintained,” Mitcham told the news outlet. “And we have notified the proper authorities to look into this matter to make sure this is not a widespread problem.”