Criminal JusticeJudicialLocal NewsJudge Awards Violent Harris County Suspect $2 Bond in Protest of Texas Bail Reform Law

Judge Josh Hill said a suspect with prior felony convictions now accused of kidnapping, beating, and choking a woman was too poor to pay bail.
January 18, 2023
Although ex-con Aubrey Taylor was arrested for kidnapping, beating, and attempting to strangle a female victim, a Harris County criminal court judge last week awarded him bonds totaling just $2 on violent felony charges.

According to court documents, the 43-year-old Taylor allegedly kidnapped a woman and held her in his car for several days, during which he beat and choked her repeatedly. Taylor’s criminal history includes eight prior felony convictions and time served in state jail. He has been to prison twice, the latter for Robbery with Bodily Injury.

The Harris County District Attorney’s Office (HCDAO) filed motions to deny bail, and the court initially set Taylor’s bond for Aggravated Kidnapping and Assault of a Family Member-Impeding Breathing at $75,000. Taylor claimed to be indigent and remained in custody.

Mugshot of Aubrey Taylor. Courtesy of the Harris County District Attorney’s Office.

Later, Judge Josh Hill of the 232nd District Criminal Court lowered Taylor’s bonds to $1,000 for each charge, and last week lowered bonds again to $1 each.

In ordering the new bond amounts, totaling just $2, Hill wrote that the defendant was “unable to post any amount of bail and is currently being held solely because of his inability to access funds.”

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Hill also referred to the state’s 2021 bail reform law Senate Bill (SB) 6, which prohibits the release of certain violent or repeat suspects on personal recognizance (PR) bonds. Hill wrote, “SB 6 prohibits a personal bond in this case and further limits who can post bail on behalf of this defendant.”

In addition to prohibitions on PR bonds for certain defendants, SB 6 requires charitable groups that post more than three bonds in a 180-day period to register with the county in which they operate. They must also provide monthly reports to the local sheriff on suspects they have bonded out and whether the suspects failed to appear for court dates. The law does not prohibit such groups from posting bail unless they are non-compliant with the reporting requirements.

Hill has previously drawn criticism for lenient bail bond policies. In 2021, former Republican gubernatorial candidate Allen West called for authorities to impeach Hill and three other Harris County judges over their releases of violent suspects.

In one instance, Hill ignored requests from HCDAO in October 2021 to revoke bond for Vernon Menifee, a murder suspect out on three felony bonds when he killed Guy-Anthony Owen.

In another local case, Hill twice approved bond release for Delvin Clemons on charges of Felon in Possession of a Weapon despite the suspect’s 17 prior felony convictions. Clemons is now charged in the murder of Keishan Betts, which took place in April 2022.

Hill also made news in August 2021 after he released a suspect with known gang affiliations on a $40,000 bond for aggravated assault. The suspect was later charged in the murder of an off-duty police detective.

Although state lawmakers succeeded in passing some bail reform measures in 2021, they fell short of the two-thirds vote needed to place on the ballot a constitutional amendment to let judges deny bail to some suspects accused of violent and sexual offenses.

In his bail order, Hill notes that the Texas Constitution prohibits “excessive bail” in this case. He released Taylor with a GPS monitor and house arrest.

Taylor is also under protective orders to keep away from his alleged victim, but Crime Stoppers of Houston victims advocate Andy Kahan told The Texan that a GPS monitor will not necessarily protect potential victims.

“I cannot imagine what she is going through,” said Kahan.

On the same day FOX 26 Houston featured Taylor’s case, Harris County pretrial services filed a bond violation report for Taylor since his GPS monitor indicated he had not remained at home.

The court issued a warrant for Taylor’s arrest and held a brief hearing Wednesday morning. Although Taylor’s defense attorney’s asked the judge to lift the warrant, Hill refused and set the next hearing for January 25.

As of publication, Taylor was not in custody according to county district clerk records.

Update: Taylor was taken into custody on Wednesday, January 18, and now faces new felony charges of Aggravated Assault of a Family Member, Retaliation, and Violation of a Protective Order. The court has set his next hearing for January 20. 

A copy of Taylor’s bail order can be found below.


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Holly Hansen

Holly Hansen is a 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.