Saturday, September 26, 2009
The Outlaw Terry Hayes
I have been following the case of Terry Hayes for months, and it just gets curiouser and curiouser. Hayes has never been popular, because of the unacceptable ways that he operated Terry's Towing, a predatory towing operation in Fayetteville, but many private parking lot owners continued to use his services. Hayes was a repeat felon with convictions for sexual abuse, failing to register as a sex offender, theft and multiple assault and battery convictions, but that didn't seem to matter to the lot owners who employed him. The state regulatory board is pretty much a joke, almost always taking the side of the operators and following the towing association members on the board.
Despite a ton of evidence that Hayes was a flight risk, he has been out of jail on $15,000 bond since his arrest in January for holding a gun to his son's head and threatening to kill him while the boy's stepmother listened on the telephone. Hayes was convicted this week for aggravated assault on a family member, terroristic threatening, first-degree endangering the welfare of a minor, and possession of a firearm by a felon. He was sentenced to 55 years and $45,000 in fines, but after his conviction he had strolled away from the courthouse unmolested by the bailiff, Sheriff's Deputies, or his attorney Jim Rose III.
Washington County Circuit Judge William Storey first set Hayes’ bond at $7,500 last January, before Hayes was accused of violating the conditions of his bond by calling and threatening his son and trying to run. After he was captured by U.S. Marshalls in Van Buren, his bail was set by Washington County Detention Center Judicial Officer Ray Reynolds at $1 million. At a bond hearing requested by Hayes' attorney, Judge Storey lowered the bond to only $15,000, over the objection of Washington County Deputy Prosecutor Bill Jones who wanted to keep Hayes behind bars. Finally, after his escape this week, Hayes bond now has been set at $500,000, but it doesn't do much good after the cow is out of the barn.
Washington County Sheriff Tim Helder said, “I believe the only way this could have been avoided would have been if he’d been remanded to custody." I think it might have been avoided if Helder's deputies had kept a close eye on Hayes at the courthouse, but they are not known for paying attention to defendants, even those locked in a holding room for four days without food or toilet facilities. Judge Storey, who set the laughably low bond, invoked an artful dodge and refused to discuss the Hayes case, citing some unidentified ethics laws as a reason not to explain his actions.
Now it's up to Sam Gerard.
UPDATE (10/13): Yes, they caught Tow Truck Terry hiding out in Gravette, of all places. Today, he got 40 years in the state slammer and a fine of $45,000. Whether he is allowed to take flight for a third time, we shall see.