UVALDE -- An accused killer walked out of jail because the county couldn't afford to keep him locked up. It happened last month in Uvalde County when a man accused of murdering a 4-year-old-boy walked free because the district attorney said that the county couldn't afford to pay his medical bills.
The Uvalde County Justice Center was the home of Cel'ves Cook for close to three years. But late last month he was released on a personal recognizance bond, which is a release without bail, because he was diagnosed with an unspecified medical condition requiring expensive long-term care.
A co-defendant in the case was also already out on bond. According to the Uvalde Leader-News, that co-defendant is the boy's mother.
"That's not right. That's not right. They should leave him in jail with what he had done: murder," said one man who didn't want to appear on camera.
"How are you going to let someone go that killed somebody's kid?" asked resident Kevin Long.
Another Uvalde man was concerned he could do worse and said, "What happens if he does it again?" another Uvalde man said.
While on house arrest the D.A. says that Cook must call the Adult Supervision Office weekly, attend court, allow his phone to be examined, stay in his home in at any time, stay off the internet except for school, work, or medical purposes, and have no contact with his co-defendant.
All of this in an effort to save taxpayers money.
The 967 days that cook spent at the Uvalde County Justice Center cost taxpayers just over $19,000, which is close to 1/5 of the entire medical budget for this fiscal year.
In the past three years, the Uvalde County Jail exceeded this year's $100,000 medical budget by large margins: in 2013 by more than $60,000, a total medical expense in 2014 of $124,000, then back up to $154,000 last year.
"I'm not paying for his medical, I'm not," said one resident, who had previously objected to the man's release.
"They should've just let him die or whatever," Long said. "If he's going to die in jail, let him die in jail. That's what happens if you commit a crime then you've got to pay the cost."