EL PASO COUNTY, Colo. (KRDO) -- A 32-year-old El Paso County previously charged with attempted murder in June 2022 faces additional charges after he allegedly shot at a deputy.
13 Investigates learned Wesley Braden was able to bond out of jail twice in the months leading up to the shooting.
On July 29, 2022, Braden received a $25,000 bond after an initial video advisement in front of El Paso County Judge Steven Katzman. He posted his bond on Aug. 1, 2022.
He failed to appear for a preliminary hearing and a no-bond bench warrant was issued for his arrest on Oct. 31, 2022. Days later on Nov. 18, 2022, he was arrested and appeared in front of Magistrate Deborah Pearson on Nov. 19, 2022. She set a bond of $50,000. He posted bond on Dec. 29, 2022.
According to the Colorado Judicial Department, Braden failed to appear for a pretrial readiness conference, and a $50,000 warrant was issued for this arrest. While wanted, that's when Braden reportedly shot at an El Paso County Sheriff's Deputy.
In each offense, Braden was charged with being a "habitual offender," which means he had multiple felony convictions on his record before picking up the attempted murder charge. Those convictions include possession of a weapon by a previous offender, forgery, trespassing, and felony menacing. Despite being a four-time convicted felon, Braden was never sentenced to more than one year in prison for the aforementioned crimes.
During his most recent arrest, the El Paso County Sheriff's Office said officers with the Manitou Springs Police Department stopped a vehicle Braden was in near the intersection of Colorado Ave. and Ridge Rd. early Tuesday morning.
After deputies arrived to assist police to arrest him, the sheriff's office said Braden fired at least one shot at a deputy. According to the sheriff's office, the only reason that the deputy wasn't badly injured was because the bullet was stopped by his duty gear.
13 Investigates spoke with former Denver Police Chief Paul Pazen about law enforcement's frustration with arresting individuals for violent crimes only for them to be released.
"I feel that I've been speaking till I'm blue in the face on this issue," Pazen said.
Since his retirement from policing, he's proposed solutions to help fix these complex problems.
In recent weeks, he authored a report for the Common Sense Institute that dives into ways to reduce crime rates in our communities. He outlines that many of these bond decisions fall at the feet of our judicial bench who are not properly accessing the risks associated with releasing people like Braden back into the community.
"Another example of a repeat violent offender that should have been in custody and not creating harm in our community or harm anywhere in the State of Colorado," Pazen said.
Each judicial district in Colorado has a "bond schedule," which helps judges make decisions on what bond amount should be given for the offenses charged like class two and three felonies.
Below is the bond schedule for the 4th Judicial District in El Paso County:
Both of Braden's offenses attempted 2nd-degree murder and aggravated robbery, were class-three felonies. However, there is little direction given to judges on how they should handle someone re-offending and allegedly committing new crimes while already out on bond.
In the previous 13 Investigates reports on this issue, we've been told to refer to Colorado laws on granting bonds, which every person accused of a crime is entitled to.
Those laws read:
The Revised statute related to bond decisions states in 3A: "The type of bond and conditions of release shall be sufficient to reasonably ensure the appearance of the person as required and to protect the safety of any person or the community, taking into consideration the individual characteristics of each person in custody, including the person's financial condition."
4A goes on to say persons are eligible for release on bond in the "least-restrictive conditions consistent with provisions in 3A."
5A-5J say the following criteria are considered:
- The employment status and history of the person in custody.
- The nature and extent of family relationships of the person in custody.
- Past and present residences of the person in custody.
- The character and reputation of the person in custody.
- Identity of persons who agree to assist the person in custody in attending court at the proper time.
- The likely sentence, considering the nature and the offense presently charged.
- The prior criminal record, if any, of the person in custody and any prior failures to appear for court.
- Any facts indicating the possibility of violations of the law if the person in custody is released without certain conditions of release.
- Any facts indicating that the defendant is likely to intimidate or harass possible witnesses
- Any other facts tend to indicate that the person in custody has strong ties to the community and is not likely to flee the jurisdiction.
Editor's Note: A previous version of this story incorrectly stated that Judge Jill Brady set Braden's $25,000 and $50,000 bonds. Instead, Judge Steven Katzman set the $25,000 bond and Magistrate Deborah Pearson set the $50,000 bond. We deeply regret our error.