A 24-year-old Anaheim man was handed a 12-year prison sentence on Dec. 4 for stabbing his ex-girlfriend weeks after being released from the Orange County Jail on a $0 bail.
Miguel Angel Reyes was convicted of misdemeanor vandalism in March, but on April 6 the California Judicial Council set bail at $0 for most misdemeanors and some lower felonies in order to reduce the spread of COVID-19 in crowded prison populations.
While still in custody for vandalism and waiting for a retrial on a felony gang enhancement, an Orange County Superior Court judge granted a motion from Reyes’ public defender for Reyes to be released April 24 under the new emergency order.
The Orange County District Attorney’s Office noted on the record that it objected to the release.
“Adopting a sweeping one size fits all $0 bail policy has resulted in the release of dangerous and violent individuals back into our community,” Orange County District Attorney Todd Spitzer said in a Dec. 4 press release.
“We didn’t need the $0 bail experiment to tell us what we already knew: when you let criminals out of jail, they will commit more crimes.”
On March 16, 3 1/2 weeks after Reyes was released, Reyes and his ex-girlfriend, 17-year-old Jolina Ramirez, became embroiled in a fight at an Anaheim park that involved Ramirez’s friends.
Ramirez threw a brick at Reyes, which prompted him to fatally stab her with a knife, according to the press release. The victim was rushed to the University of California–Irvine Medical Center in Orange, but didn’t survive the wounds.
Reyes was convicted Oct. 5 of one felony count of voluntary manslaughter, for which he received the maximum prison sentence of 11 years in state prison, and one felony enhancement of the personal use of a deadly weapon, which added another year to his sentence.
Reyes still faces the original charge of felony gang enhancement. If convicted, he will be sentenced to an additional two years for committing a crime while out on bail, and another eight months for the actual charge.
The California Judicial Council rescinded the $0 bail order on June 20.
Spitzer said: “This is just another example of this reckless policy resulting in the loss of a young life when its intended purpose was to save lives. It is an unforgivable tragedy that a 17-year-old girl is dead—and she didn’t have to die.”