Blair DA’s office criticizes reductions in bail
Weeks opposed all but one of 10 changes Tuesday
HOLLIDAYSBURG — The Blair County District Attorney’s Office has reiterated its stance against bail reductions for defendants facing violent crimes.
In a statement distributed Wednesday, Blair County District Attorney Pete Weeks said his office opposed all but one of 10 bail revision petitions presented Tuesday in Blair County Court. The one it didn’t oppose, Weeks said, called for release of a defendant who will enter the county’s Drug Court program.
President Judge Elizabeth Doyle, who reviewed the petitions individually, granted several changes Tuesday, including one allowing a Pinecroft man charged with attempted homicide to be released from the county prison.
Timothy James McLendon, 28, whose bail has been $300,000 cash since his arrest in February, was released after Doyle revised his bail to $300,000 unsecured. If McLendon fails to comply with bail conditions, including his participation in court proceedings on Jan. 25 and Feb. 2, he would risk being arrested again.
Altoona police charged McLendon with attempted homicide and aggravated assault with a deadly weapon after identifying him as the person who shot a 30-year-old man in the neck outside the man’s residence at 17th Street and Sixth Avenue on Feb. 4, 2020.
Police, in the criminal charges, said McLendon accused the man of sexually assaulting one of McLendon’s relatives. McLendon’s defense attorney, Thomas Dickey, is also on record as saying that McLendon acted in self-defense.
Doyle also revised Jonathan Delacruz’s $500,000 cash bail, set after his arrest in July. That’s when Altoona police searched two properties, including 2521 Beale Ave., where they found a large stash of fentanyl and heroin, plus $200,000 in cash, and linked it to Delacruz and his girlfriend, Tori Wilt, also in jail in lieu of $500,000 cash bail.
The judge lowered Delacruz’s bail to 10% of $500,000 or $50,000 cash, a reduction of $450,000, Weeks said.
While county court judges regularly evaluate bail modification petitions, the amount started increasing last year in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. With criminal jury trials on hold through March, petitions for bail changes are likely to continue.
Weeks said his office, for the last 11 months, has been conducting in-depth reviews of every bail reduction request, agreeing only to ones involving non-violent offenses and defendants with little or no violent history.
“My office objected to (Tuesday’s) releases and we will continue to argue that these releases pose a risk to the community,” Weeks said.
Mirror Staff Writer Kay Stephens is at 814-946-7456.