Accused Killer in Mineral Wells Released Without Posting Bail, Averting Costly Surgery Bill for Taxpayers

PALO PINTO - A Palo Pinto County murder suspect was released from county jail last week without posting bond, a week before undergoing recommended surgery that could have proved costly to taxpayers.Lonneil Javon White, 29, of Dallas, was released Feb. 14 on his own recognizance, the Mineral Wells Index reported. He had been held on $750,000 bond, charged with first-degree murder in the fatal shooting of 26-year-old Richard Grajeda of Mineral Wells.White reportedly suffers from a serious but undisclosed medical condition requiring pricey surgery and follow-up care - a combination that could run in the hundreds of thousands of dollars, according to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.But Palo Pinto County District Attorney Kriste Burnett said her decision to release White was more complicated than that, saying she anticipated that White and his attorney would claim self-defense in the case - a development for which she said her office would not have time to prepare for in time for Thursday's scheduled grand jury session."As a District Attorney, my legal and ethical duty is to see justice done," Burnett said. "The investigation into this case is ongoing and we knew we would not be able to present the case to the grand jury this month."White was arrested in Dallas two weeks after Grajeda was shot during an argument Jan. 2 at a Mineral Wells residence that escalated into the street.A public defender has been appointed to represent him."If the grand jury believes that self-defense was justified, that would likely result in the case being no-billed," she said. "If raised at a jury trial, unless the jury found beyond a reasonable doubt that self-defense was not appropriate, that claim would result in the accused being found not guilty."When Dallas County Jail officials discovered White's medical condition, they reportedly aimed to have him quickly transferred to Palo Pinto County, where Sheriff Brett McGuire told the county auditor's office of the looming potential medical expense."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 timeframe was necessary," Burnett told the Index. "This treatment would result in costs to the county totaling in the hundreds of thousands of dollars, which would be more than half of the county's budget for inmate health care for the entire year."Moreover, she said, the county would be liable for staff to guard White during his hospital stay.While free on bond, White must still report weekly and remains responsible for the $750,000 bond amount should he violate those terms or not appear in court.Justice of the Peace Todd Baker, who issued the personal recognizance bond, told the newspaper that he complied with Burnett's request since "it is her case," but added, "I wasn't real happy about it."  Continue reading...

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