Although Clemons’ criminal history dates back to 1996 and includes 29 prior convictions on both felony and misdemeanor charges, Judge Josh Hill of the 232nd District Court approved his release on bonds for charges of illegal weapon possession in October and again in November of 2021.
Combined with another felony charge for burglary of a vehicle, Clemons’ total bonds in 2021 came to $45,000.
On April 17, 2022, Clemons is alleged to have shot Keishan Betts at her apartment. She died of her wounds days later.
While the mass murder of 19 children and two teachers at an elementary school in Uvalde last week has sparked calls from Democrats for a special state legislative session to enact new restrictions on gun ownership, the number of suspects released into the community with illegal weapons charges is currently unknown.
In another case, last week, a suspect released on bond from Harris County for charges of Felon in Possession of a Weapon led police in Brazos County on a high-speed chase during morning rush hour. After driver Alfred West and a second suspect, Jaleen Anderson, allegedly abandoned their vehicle, multiple law enforcement agencies conducted a manhunt that forced area schools to close for several hours.
According to The Bryan-College Station Eagle, Department of Public Safety officers found a firearm, a hacksaw, two batteries, and seven catalytic converters in West’s vehicle. He and Anderson face multiple felony charges including Theft of Property and Unlawfully Carrying Weapons in a weapons-free zone.
West, age 29, was convicted of Aggravated Robbery with a Deadly Weapon in 2013 and completed a six-year sentence. In the spring of 2020, authorities arrested and charged West with Felon in Possession of a Weapon.
Harris County’s 180th District Court under Judge DaSean Jones authorized West’s release on a $3,000 bond, despite a district attorney’s office request for a minimum bond of $40,000.
Later in 2020, Jones approved bonds of $10,000 and $20,000 for West on felony charges of Assault of a Family Member and Assault of a Public Servant and raised his original bond to $5,000. Additional charges for a second incidence of Felon in Possession of a Weapon for West were dismissed by the judge for lack of probable cause.
After West failed to appear in court in May 2021 the court authorized bond forfeiture, but a week later reinstated his bonds after he pled guilty to evading arrest for which he served seven days in jail.
West is also wanted in Illinois for Aggravated Unlawful Possession of Stolen Vehicle Parts and is currently in custody in the Brazos County jail.
State law prohibits felons from possessing weapons for five years after completing a sentence. After five years, the felon may keep a firearm in his or her home under some circumstances, but federal law prohibits convicted felons from keeping firearms in their homes. If convicted of a charge of possession of a firearm by a felon, state penalties include up to 10 years in prison with fines of up to $10,000.
Both judges Hill and Jones are campaigning for re-election in 2022 and face challenges from Republican candidates Joshua Normand and Tami Pierce respectively.
Texas law prohibits the carrying of a gun on school premises in most circumstances and increases penalties for weapons crimes committed within 300 feet of a school.
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Holly Hansen is a regional reporter for The Texan living in Harris County. Her former column, “All In Perspective” ran in The Georgetown Advocate, Jarrell Star Ledger, and The Hill Country News, and she has contributed to a variety of Texas digital media outlets. She graduated summa cum laude from the University of Central Florida with a degree in History, and in addition to writing about politics and policy, also writes about faith and culture.