The Austin Police Department announced the arrest of 26-year-old Timothy Bowie this week in connection with an aggravated assault that occurred in Northwest Austin. Police responded to a shooting at an apartment complex.
Upon arrival, officers found someone who had been shot in the foot. Bowie was detained shortly afterward near the incident site and police found a firearm allegedly discarded by Bowie. He is being held in the Travis County jail charged with a second degree felony for aggravated assault with a deadly weapon.
On May 6, 2019, Bowie was arrested in connection with a homicide that occurred the day before. His bond was set at $250,000 and it appears, despite filing an indigence form with the court, did not post bail. He was indicted by a grand jury on July 31, 2019, and the trial process continued for months.
In early December, the case was transferred from the 403rd District Court to the 460th. Bowie filed a motion to reduce his bond the following March after dismissing his court-appointed counsel. New counsel was appointed on May 7, 2021, and about a month later, Bowie was granted personal bond by the court, presided over by Judge Selena Alvarenga.
Personal bond allows defendants out of jail on zero cash bail, providing no collateral for ensuring the accused appears at their set court date.
Judges set bond with recommendations provided to the bench by the district attorney’s office. Bowie has a pre-trial date set for his murder charge later this month.
The defendant has a lengthy criminal history with multiple misdemeanor charges, many of which were dismissed, and received deferred adjudication for a misdemeanor charge of assault against a family member. During that proceeding, he also was granted personal bond, given on September 26, 2018, which was then revoked, regranted, and revoked again a couple of months later.
The deferred adjudication required Bowie to partake in counseling services and placed a no-contact order on him with the victim.
Bowie was sentenced to 180 days in jail for a 2015 felony of attempted forgery of a financial instrument and was also granted personal bond during that proceeding.
No bond has yet been set for the most recent aggravated assault charge.
Each of Bowie’s personal bonds is predated by a 2017 ordinance by the Austin City Council directing municipal court judges to prioritize personal bond for defendants deemed indigent — a category given to poor defendants. Judges who objected to the policy were not renewed by the council.
Travis County Attorney José Garza, who’s been in office since January 2021, has implemented policies recommending relaxed bail and sentencing guidelines to the bench, including for defendants charged with higher-level felonies.
Last month, an Austin man accused of shooting two individuals — killing one and paralyzing the other — was discovered to have been out of jail on two personal bonds in two different counties, Travis and Hays.
Relaxed bail and sentencing policy, even for violent and repeat offenders, is on an upward trend in the state’s population centers. The Texas Legislature passed Senate Bill 6 during the second special session last year, which sets restrictions on instances in which low or no bond is given and sets transparency requirements when personal bond is issued.
However, the enabling joint resolution, which would have placed the potential constitutional amendment on the ballot for voters to ratify, failed to pass by the required margin in the legislature.
The topic may arise again in the upcoming legislative session in 2023.
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Brad Johnson is a senior reporter for The Texan and an Ohio native who graduated from the University of Cincinnati in 2017. He is an avid sports fan who most enjoys watching his favorite teams continue their title drought throughout his cognizant lifetime. In his free time, you may find Brad quoting Monty Python productions and trying to calculate the airspeed velocity of an unladen swallow.