Crime

Accused killer needs costly surgery. Texas jail released him on bond to skip the bill

2015 mugshot of Lonneil Javon White
2015 mugshot of Lonneil Javon White Handout Mineral Wells Police

Lonneil White was behind bars in Texas, facing a murder charge, and being held on a $750,000 bond in the Palo Pinto County Jail, police say.

But on Feb. 14, he was released from the jail without posting bond, the district attorney there has confirmed in a statement to McClatchy.

“During the the investigation, the accused has raised the issue of self defense,” according to the statement from District Attorney Kristie Burnett. The DA’s office expects to deliver the case to a grand jury, but likely will not be able to do so this month, the statement says.

The county could have held onto White, 29, even with that evolution in the case. But White’s health and the county jail medical budget have complicated matters, Burnett said in the statement.

“It was recently brought to my attention that the doctor providing care to Mr. White wanted to go forward with surgery within a week and believed that the surgery being performed in this time frame was necessary,” it reads. “This treatment would result in costs to the county totaling in the hundreds of thousands of dollars, which would be more than half the county’s budget for inmate health care for the entire year.

“In addition to medical bills, the cost to the county would include paying for jailers or deputies to guard the inmate at the hospital,” the statement concludes. “Weighing all these factors and keeping in mind a prosecutor’s duty to see justice done, the decision was made to release Mr. White on a personal recognizance bond with bond conditions including weekly reporting to our local probation office.”

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Lonneil Javon White is wanted on a murder warrant. Courtesy Mineral Wells Police

Releasing a suspect on his or her own “personal recognizance” means that the suspect is released without paying bond, but on the condition of a promise to return to court.

White has a serious, but undisclosed medical condition, WFAA reported.

He was arrested by the U.S. Marshals Service on Jan. 17, 15 days after the killing of 26-year-old Richard Grajeda of Mineral Wells, Raul Reyna, a Dallas County Sheriff’s Office spokesman, told McClatchy.

White was named as a suspect days after Grajeda was found dead, hunched over the steering wheel of a car, in Mineral Wells’ Country Club Estates neighborhood on Jan. 2, the Star-Telegram reported at the time.

U.S. Marshals found him in 80 miles to the east of Mineral Wells, in Dallas, after a two-week search, and he was transferred to Palo Pinto County as soon as Dallas officials learned of his medical condition, according to the Weatherford Democrat.

“I wasn’t real happy about it,” Palo Pinto County Justice of the Peace Todd Baker, whose office issued the PR bond, said, according to the newspaper.

Dallas fugitive Anibal Chirino Meja, the main suspect in the murder of a Texas journalist Jacinto Torres Hernandez, will be featured on In Pursuit with John Walsh .

Matt is an award-winning real time reporter and a University of Texas at Austin graduate who’s been based at the Fort Worth Star-Telegram since 2011. His regional focus is Texas, and that makes sense. He’s only lived there his whole life.

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