An intermediate appellate court in Waco has reduced the bail for an Arlington man charged in the July shooting death of a Crawford woman, ruling that a judge abused his discretion by setting bail at $5 million and refusing to reduce it.
Attorneys for James Ray Brossett appealed his bail amount set by 54th State District Judge Matt Johnson and the judge’s decision not to reduce it at a hearing in November.
In a ruling made public Friday, Waco’s 10th Court of Appeals reduced Brossett’s bond to $1 million and sent the matter back to Johnson’s court so he can place terms and conditions on the bond should Brossett be able to secure his release from the McLennan County Jail.
“We are pleased that the court of appeals granted our request and reduced our client’s bond to a reasonable amount similar to the amounts set in other similar cases of accused people in similar circumstances,” said Waco attorney Michelle Tuegel, who represents Brossett with attorney Walter M. Reaves Jr.
Tuegel said that despite the court’s ruling, she doubts Brossett will be able to post bail because he has been in jail for eight months and his masonry business has failed.
Death penalty sought
Brossett is charged with capital murder in the death of Laura Patschke, with whom he once had a dating relationship. Prosecutors intend to seek the death penalty against the 49-year-old Brossett, who prosecutors said confessed to the crimes.
Brossett was free at the time of Patschke’s death on two bonds related to stalking and violating a protective order involving Patschke. He also is charged with shooting Patschke’s 18-year-old son, Trevor, in the arm during the early-morning incident at their home.
At a hearing in November, District Attorney Abel Reyna told the court it was no coincidence that Brossett drove from Arlington to Crawford that Sunday night or early Monday morning when Trevor and his younger brother and sister had just returned to their mother’s home from a holiday visit with their father. Brossett intended to kill the whole family, Reyna said.
Reyna said Brossett parked his truck about a mile from Patschke’s home on Bosque Ridge Boulevard and walked through the woods. He got lost along the way and it took him more than two hours to reach Patschke’s house, Reyna said.
In a concurring and a dissenting opinion, 10th Court of Appeals Chief Justice Tom Gray said he also thinks the $5 million bond was an abuse of Johnson’s discretion, but he said the appeals court should not be in the business of setting bonds.
“As for me, I do not understand why we, as an appellate court, should in the first instance set the amount of bail we think is appropriate. All we have is a cold record before us,” Gray wrote. “I would much prefer a remand to allow the trial court to set the amount and conditions of bail it deems appropriate and leave this court to review the trial court’s order.”
In arguing against the bond reduction at the previous hearing, Reyna told the judge that Brossett sent Patschke more than 200 harassing text messages on the day he was freed from jail the last time.
Reyna also told the judge that Patschke’s sons slept with loaded weapons near their beds because they were aware of Brossett’s violent nature.
Brossett kicked open a door and went to Patschke’s bedroom and fired a shot at her. The boys came running from their rooms with guns, and Brossett shot Trevor in the arm, Reyna said.
As their sister hid in her room, the boys fled the house. Brossett then returned and fired two more shots at Patschke, striking the 48-year-old at close range with his 12-gauge shotgun, he said.
Brossett, who had taped a flashlight onto his shotgun barrel, then went outside to look for the children to “finish what he had started,” the district attorney said.
He later found the keys to Patschke’s car, which he drove to where he had parked his truck, then left her car and went to the Fort Worth area in his truck, where authorities arrested him.
Brossett served three years in prison after pleading guilty to assault family violence with bodily injury in 2003 and has a 1997 conviction for violating a protective order. He has three other arrests relating to violence against women dating back to 1987, prosecutors said.
No trial date has been set in the case.