Shocked judge bumps into man jailed for violent, racist hate crime at restaurant after computer error led to release
A Texan judge was shocked to see a man awaiting trial for a racist assault at a local restaurant after he was released by a computer error.
John Tidwell, a judge for the 202nd district court, he was surprised to see the hate crime suspect dining out at a Mexican restaurant in New Boston, Texas, according to the Texarkana Gazette.
Charles Mitchell Patton, 26, was arrested in August 2019 for allegedly attacking a Black teenager as he walked down a street in his neighbourhood. The Bowie County grand jury indicted Patton for injury to a child, and the district attorney’s office said it would seek an enhanced punishment based on a Texas hate crimes statute.
The office also filed an additional enhancement related to a prior felony conviction.
Following his arrest in 2019, Patton was held in Bowie County jail and was ineligible for release on bail. But the Texarkana Gazette reported the Bowie County record-keeping systems were down because of a cyberattack, and Patton’s parole hold was lifted.
As such, he was released on 5 February 2021 on bonds totalling $92,500.
Tidwell told Patton at a hearing on Friday (5 March) that he was “surprised” the man had been released. He said: “As you could tell from the look on my face, I was surprised when you walked into Amigo Juan’s a couple of weeks ago.
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“I was surprised you had been released.”
Tidwell told Patton he would allow him to remain on bond with some restrictions. But he wanted Patton to “go home… on house arrest”. Under house arrest, Patton would only be able to leave his residence to seek emergency medical care, attend court or for meetings with his legal counsel for pretrial services.
Patton’s case is scheduled for a pretrial hearing on 26 April.
According to the Texarkana Gazette, Patton allegedly shouted anti-Black racist slurs on 28 July 2019 towards the 14-year-old, who was walking down the street. The man also reportedly took off his reveal to reveal a chest tattoo of a swastika before swinging at the boy with a closed fist.
The boy said he was able to avoid Patton’s first strike, but he was hit by the second punch which caused a laceration to his mouth.
Two other men, who were in the truck with Patton, left the car to “get the suspect away from the juvenile”.
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