Bond for November slaying a 'slap in the face from the city,' brothers say

Bond for November slaying a 'slap in the face from the city,' brothers say

December 5th, 2015 by Shelly Bradbury in Local Regional News

Nathaniel Harris Sr. talks Wednesday, December 2, 2015, about his brother, Timothy Harris, who was shot to death in November.

Nathaniel Harris Sr. talks Wednesday, December 2, 2015,...

Photo by Angela Lewis Foster /Times Free Press.

A 47-year-old Chattanooga man was shot eight times in the chest, arms and shoulder when he was killed Nov. 1, according to a Hamilton County Medical Examiner's report.

Timothy Harris was killed outside a home on Olive Street after witnesses said he got into an argument with his stepdaughter's boyfriend, Cordarius Robinson, around 1 a.m.

Robinson, 27, turned himself in to the Hamilton County Jail on Nov. 10 and was charged with criminal homicide and aggravated assault.

He was released the same day on a $50,000 bond — to the outrage of Harris' family.

"That bond amount was a slap in the face from the city," said Nathaniel Harris, Timothy's younger brother.

"He was our brother," said Ezra Harris, Timothy's older brother. "His life mattered. A murder was committed, and you set a bond of $50,000?"

Robinson's bond was set at $25,000 for the aggravated assault charge and $25,000 for the criminal homicide charge. Bonds are set by either a judge or a magistrate, and the officials have wide latitude when choosing the amount.

State law requires magistrates to set a bond as low as "necessary to reasonably assure the appearance of the defendant," and orders magistrates to consider several factors.

Magistrates should look at how long the defendant has lived in the community, whether he/she is employed and financially stable, as well as family ties, reputation and mental condition. Magistrates also are asked to consider the defendant's prior criminal record, record of appearance in court, nature of the offense and whether the defendant poses a danger to the community, according to state law.

Traditionally, defendants are required to pay 10 percent of the bond to be released from jail, but some defendants pay much less because of intense competition between Chattanooga's bail bond companies.

Ezra Harris talks Wednesday, December 2, 2015, about his brother, Timothy Harris, who was shot to death in November.

Ezra Harris talks Wednesday, December 2, 2015, about...

Photo by Angela Lewis Foster /Times Free Press.

In Robinson's case, the $25,000 bonds were set by Sessions Court Judge Christie Sell, and a second judge added a condition that Robinson have no contact with the victims or witnesses in the case. Robinson used Key Bonding to get out of jail. The company would not say Friday how much Robinson paid.

Ezra Harris said he wrote letters to both Sell and the assistant district attorney who is prosecuting the case, Lance Pope, to take issue with the bond amount. Pope declined to comment because the case is ongoing.

Robinson is scheduled to appear at a preliminary hearing Dec. 15, and his bond could be raised at that time. Timothy Harris' surviving brothers hope to see not only a higher bond, but also more serious charges.

"He had every intention of killing my brother," Nathaniel Harris said. "He discharged that weapon multiple times. I want the charge to be changed from criminal homicide to first-degree murder."

Even as they remember their brother — a quiet man who sang in the church choir, loved to organize family reunions and was separated from his wife — the Harris family is bracing for a long journey through the court system.

Nathaniel and Ezra Harris want to be at every court proceeding.

Contact staff writer Shelly Bradbury at 423-757-6525 or sbradbury@timesfreepress.com with tips or story ideas.


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