Less than a month after removing his GPS ankle monitor and leaving the county, a judge gave a San Jacinto County teen another bond.
Joshua Escobar, 19, is charged with murder in the death of 19-year-old Sean Velasquez on March 24.
“He was an innocent kid, you know, just in love with the wrong person,” Velasquez’s aunt Bengie said.
Sean’s family said the fatal shooting stemmed from a love triangle. Velasquez had recently begun dating Escobar’s ex-girlfriend.
“He was there to see his girlfriend,” Bengie said. “He had no clue Escobar was in the house.”
Velasquez was shot three times at his girlfriend’s home, including once in the head, and pronounced dead at the scene.
Escobar’s bond was originally set at $1 million, but Judge Travis Kitchens lowered it to $75,000-the 19-year-old posted bond on May 30, according to records.
A document filed in Escobar’s family violence assault case, which is pending in Montgomery County, says he allowed his GPS ankle monitor to “shut down” on June 5.
Escobar was found four days later in Guadalupe County, near San Antonio, with the woman caught in the middle. She was also arrested on unknown charges and has since bonded out. Both were transferred back to San Jacinto County.
On Thursday, Escobar appeared before Judge Kitchens and was given a $500,000 bond.
“This guy was let out on a $75,000 bond. He removed his ankle monitor, was out on the run, came back, and was given another bond,” Karla, Velasquez’s mother, said. “Another opportunity to be out there with his family while we no longer have our son.”
Even if he does make bond, Judge Kitchens said he (Escobar) would not be released from custody because he was not granted bond on his case in Montgomery County.
Reporters asked Kitchens why he lowered Escobar’s bond by 92.5%, and he said he could not comment on the case. He went on to say that the defense and the district attorney’s office made the arrangement and agreed on it.
Last week, the judge issued a gag order preventing the involved parties, like attorneys, from commenting publicly. He noted that Escobar’s ability to obtain a fair trial has potentially been impacted because of the media attention on the case.
Velasquez’s family has held numerous protests, and San Jacinto County Assistant District Attorney Rob Freyer attended one, according to the order issued by the judge.
“Rob Freyer, the Assistant District Attorney, has already participated in a public protest against the 258th Judicial District Court in regards to the setting of the bond in this case,” documents say.
Judge Kitchens also noted statements made by Freyer to a local paper at the protest.
Because of the media attention, the judge is considering moving the case to another county. On Thursday, he said he had not decided. “Hopefully, the publicity dies down,” he said.
At this point, Velasquez’s father, Paul, said he is not hopeful that his family will get justice based on how the case has played out.
“I don’t trust them anymore,” Paul said. “I trust the Lord because they haven’t showed us any favors since the day my son died.”
Escobar’s family ignored an attempt to speak with ABC13.
His next court hearing is set for Sept. 27.
Attorneys agreed that the trial would likely happen in the first or second quarter of 2024.