Rejecting bid by Mobile County prosecutors, judge reaffirms ruling granting bail to convicted murderer

Published: Oct. 27, 2022 at 4:15 PM CDT
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MOBILE, Ala. (WALA) - A judge on Thursday denied a request by prosecutors to revoke the bond of a man convicted last week of murder.

It was a last-ditch bid by the Mobile County District Attorney’s Office to reverse a ruling by Judge Edward McDermott, a retired jurist who presided over David Cordero-Hernandez’s trial because the permanent judge was suspended.

The jury found the defendant guilty of murder in the December 2019 death of Tracie Dennis over a dispute about money. Prosecutors allege that Cordero-Hernandez helped co-defendant Marcos Oslan, who was the shooter.

Typically, defendants immediately are jailed after a guilty verdict in murder cases. But McDermott – over the prosecution’s objections – ruled Cordero-Hernandez can remain free until his Nov. 28 sentencing.

“It is still my intention that the defendant remain on bond until sentencing,” the judge said at Thursday’s hearing.

Cordero-Hernandez, 25, will remain free under the same conditions of the $100,000 bond.

The ruling, theoretically, could be appealed. But with only about a month until sentencing, there might not be enough time.

Prosecutors argued that Cordero-Hernandez posed “an extreme flight risk.” They cited his apprehension in Jacksonville, Florida, nearly a week after the fatal shooting and the fact that he went to New Jersey in 2020 despite an order that he remain under house arrest on electronic monitoring.

“That was never lifted,” Mobile County Assistant District Attorney Lauren Walsh said during Thursday’s hearing.

Defense attorney Dom Soto said the original electronic monitoring order required him to wear an ankle bracelet but that none of the devices was available at the time. He said his client went to New Jersey to work for his brother but returned and has complied will all of the bond requirements aver since.

“He got jobs with permission,” he told FOX10 News. “The minute he found out there was an issue with it, he came back.”

Th defendant’s bail-bondsman told the judge Thursday that Cordero-Hernandez “has been an excellent defendant” who has given him no problems.

McDermott made clear from the outset of the hearing that he already had considered broader arguments that Cordero-Hernandez was a danger to flee.

‘The issue of flight has been decided,” he said. “I do not want to get into that.”

McDermott also addressed an unusual order issued last week withdrawing his adjudication of guilt. That procedural maneuver does not change the verdict but allowed Cordero-Hernandez to be released on the original bond. On Thursday, McDermott told the lawyers that another judge issued that order in his name.

“I did not issue that order, but it was issued under my name,” he said. “I affirmed that.”

Prosecutors did not have much to say after the hearing.

“So, this was ultimately up to the court, and we did object, but that was the decision made by the court today,” Walsh said.

Soto called it a “tempest in a teapot” outside the courtroom.

“Every time something goes wrong with the DA’s Office that they don’t like, they call you guys,” he said.

Soto says his client isn’t a danger and isn’t a risk to flee. He says Cordero-Hernandez stuck around for three years while the case was pending.

“You know, Cordero means lamb in Spanish,” he said. “And he’s a real meek guy. He’s special ed, you know, a lot of other mitigating things. … He’s been the most acquiescent defendant I’ve ever represented. He’s upset, and he’s been an emotional edge.”

Cordero-Hernandez faces 20 years to life in prison.

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