Written by: Sam Orlando
HAMPTON, VIRGINIA – In a significant appellate decision on February 5, 2024, the Virginia Court of Appeals upheld the Circuit Court of the City of Hampton’s decision to grant pretrial bond to Cory Bigsby, a man facing 30 felony and 2 misdemeanor charges, including the murder of his son. This ruling represents a notable setback for the Commonwealth of Virginia, which appealed the bond decision.
The Commonwealth's Appeal
The Commonwealth had contended that the lower court abused its discretion by considering Bigsby's presumption of innocence, the nature of the charges, his opportunity to obstruct justice, and the "insufficient evidence" of him being a danger to the public. Moreover, the Commonwealth took issue with the court giving "significant weight" to the passage of time as a change in circumstance.
The Appellate Court's Ruling
In its detailed analysis, the Court of Appeals found several flaws in the Commonwealth's position. Firstly, it declined to consider the Commonwealth's argument against the presumption of innocence, as it was not raised in the trial court. This procedural oversight was a critical error, as objections must be both specific and timely to be considered on appeal.
Regarding the Commonwealth's contention on the passage of time, the appellate court could not consider it due to the absence of necessary documents and transcripts in the appeal record. This lack of documentation weakened the Commonwealth's position substantially.
The appellate court also addressed the Commonwealth's concerns about Bigsby's potential danger to the public and his children. Bigsby's defense highlighted his lack of criminal record, strong family ties, and military service. The court's decision to grant bond, with conditions like GPS monitoring and limited travel, was seen as a balanced approach to these concerns.
The Embarrassment for the Commonwealth
This ruling is seen as a significant embarrassment for the Commonwealth's Attorney. The appellate court's decision underscores procedural missteps and a lack of compelling argumentation from the Commonwealth. The emphasis on procedural rules and the requirement for a complete record highlight the importance of thoroughness and precision in legal appeals.
The case has garnered significant attention, not only for its unusual nature but also for the legal intricacies involved in the pretrial bond process. The Court of Appeals' decision reaffirms the importance of the presumption of innocence and the necessity for courts to balance various factors, including the severity of charges and the defendant's background, in bond decisions.
No Comments from Either Side
Breaking Through News reached out to counsel for the Commonwealth and Amina Matheny-Willard, Counsel for the Defendant, and neither have provided comment as of press time.
A Precedent in Future Bond Cases
As the case returns to the Circuit Court for trial, this ruling will likely be seen as a precedent in future bond hearings, particularly in cases involving serious charges.