Ankle Monitor Escapees Commit Additional Crimes

( – Typically, most people think about electronic or GPS monitoring and envision white-collar, pre-trial suspects or low-risk probation candidates to help ease prison overcrowding. However, like most aspects of the legal system, it’s complicated. Now some law enforcement officers and prosecutors argue that a growing number of ankle monitor escapees are committing additional crimes.

A Few Cases

Consider the recent cases of Lisa Dykes, Nina Marano, and Charles Beltran, who stood accused of murdering Marisela Botello-Valadez in Dallas in 2020. Dykes and Marano removed their monitors and fled to Cambodia, where they successfully evaded authorities for several months. Police eventually captured and extradited them to Texas, where Dykes faces charges.

Another recent newsworthy case involved Shane James, 34, who police arrested in 2023 on a domestic abuse charge against his parents and one sibling. The Bexar County, Texas, jail released him on an ankle monitor and under the condition that he have no harmful contact with his parents. After his release on March 7, he removed the ankle monitor on March 8.

Deputies responded to his home in August 2023 because he suffered a mental health crisis. His father managed to force the door open slightly but couldn’t talk him out of the room. Deputies also tried unsuccessfully to coax the suspect out of the room, eventually telling his father to call them when he finally came out. The call never came.

Bexar Sherriff deputies found Phyllis and Shane James Sr., 55 and 56, respectively, dead in their home on December 5. Authorities suspect the younger James of the crime.

A court sentenced Jordan Lopez, 22, to 35 years in prison after he removed his ankle monitor and committed murder. He was wearing the monitor after police charged him with a home invasion six months before he committed the murder.

One Size Doesn’t Fit All

In another case, Nestor Hernandez, a parolee released with an ankle monitor, committed a shooting at a Methodist Hospital in the Dallas Medical Center in November 2022 after his girlfriend delivered a baby, killing a social worker and a nurse. Dallas police Chief Eddie García condemned the monitor. He told The Dallas Morning News that Hernandez had cut his monitor off earlier that year. In Garcia’s opinion, “A violent individual such as this should not have been on an ankle monitor and should have remained in custody.”

Yet, Steven Phillips believes “It’s a viable alternative.” The courts convicted Phillips of sex crimes he didn’t commit in 1982. The penal system released him on parole with an ankle monitor in 2007 until a court exonerated him in 2008. He said wearing the monitor gave him no freedom, just a different kind of incarceration. However, he said it allows people to begin transitioning back to a more normal life.

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