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Fremont Co. murder suspect unable to be placed on pre-trial GPS monitoring after PR bond release

FREMONT COUNTY, Colo. (KRDO) -- A murder suspect in the death of a baby in Cañon City will not be placed on GPS monitoring as a condition of his release on bond after KRDO13 Investigates learned Fremont County does not offer GPS monitoring for people released on bond pre-trial.

This revelation came to a head on Monday during a bond hearing for William Jacobs, who's accused of shaking a baby to death inside a Motel 6 room in Cañon City in May 2023. Jacobs was released on a PR bond by Fremont County District Judge Kaitlin Turner. Turner previously ordered Jacobs to be monitored by a GPS tracking system during a hearing two weeks ago.

However, during Monday's hearing, it came as a surprise to both Turner and the 11th Judicial District Attorney's office that Fremont County doesn't offer this as a condition to bond release. KRDO13 Investigates learned Tuesday that Fremont County hasn't offered this for nearly five years.

"What we ran into is that it was not ordered by the courts that much, and then there's a cost associated to it," Fremont County Sheriff Allen Cooper said.

Sheriff Cooper outlined that the pre-trial services department in Fremont County is run through his office. However, he decided to do away with GPS monitoring sometime in 2019 because the costs associated with having it were not worth the amount of times judges were ordering it as a condition of bond release.

"I think the heaviest usage we had would have been around 2019, and for the entire year it was used four times," Cooper said.

This comes as Cooper says 80% of people who entered the Fremont County Jail on state charges in 2023 were released on either a PR bond, referred to as cashless bail, or release on a surety or cash bond.

It came as a slight surprise to the elected Sheriff that neither the judge nor the district attorney's office knew that GPS monitoring wasn't an option for people released on bond. Cooper said this shows "just how disconnected the systems are."

"The judiciary has their line of work that they do, but they don't really have a lot of interaction with my office other than the inmate transfer," Cooper said.

Cooper said he believes many of the more rural judicial districts in Colorado are faced with the same reality he is: GPS monitoring isn't possible without more staff and more money to fund it.

"It all boils down to staffing and money. If you're going to have that monitoring program, staff has to monitor it. That means you have to have a person that understands the system, that can access the software," Cooper said.

Sheriff Cooper said he understands the value of having people on GPS monitoring pre-trial, especially with the prevalence of judges releasing people without any form of collateral ensuring their appearance at future court dates.

"First of all, it lets them know that Big Brother is watching, number one. And number two, it allows people that might be sentenced to jail the chance to be released if they would go out for GPS monitoring," Cooper said.

For the elected Sheriff to devote more resources to re-installing a GPS monitoring system, he says the judges would have to show him they have more of a desire to put people on ankle monitors while they are awaiting trial.

"And since they thought we had it anyway, I don't think that's the case," Cooper said.

William Jacobs will be back inside a Fremont County courtroom for a motions hearing on May 29. His jury trial on a 1st-degree-murder charge is set for July 15.

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Sean Rice

Sean is reporter with the 13 Investigates team. Learn more about him here.


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