'Why is he free?': Family of Diamond Alvarez demands murder suspect be returned to jail

Frank Deleon Jr., the teen accused of shooting his girlfriend 22 times was allowed to post bond and walk out of jail in January.
HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Family and friends of 15-year-old Diamond Alvarez marched downtown Houston Wednesday morning, demanding justice for the murdered teen.

Houston investigators believe Alvarez was gunned down in her neighborhood park on Jan. 11 by her said boyfriend, 17-year-old Frank DeLeon Jr., after she found out he was cheating, according to court documents.

Despite the horrific allegations, DeLeon Jr. was charged with murder and was allowed to post a $250,000 bond and walk out of jail on Jan. 19. He returned home to await his day in court.

SEE RELATED STORY: 17-year-old boyfriend charged with murder of 15-year-old girl in SW Houston posts $250K bond

In response, Alvarez's family marched, protested and asked for DeLeon Jr.'s bond to be revoked. The family told ABC13 they are upset DeLeon Jr. is out on bond and fear for their safety as he lives in the same neighborhood as them.

"I can't sleep," said Alvarez's mother, Anna Machado. "Watching cameras. Any noise I hear, I get up. I can't sleep."

An online petition has gained more than 24,000 signatures. Houston advocacy group, FIEL Houston, also joined the family in their march for justice.

"We have to have a leveled playing field in our criminal justice system," said Cesar Espinosa, the executive director of FIEL Houston.

Alvarez's family argues DeLeon Jr. should have never been given bond because he was found with luggage on him and, in their mind, that makes the suspect a flight risk.

"Why is he free? Is her life worth only $250,000? To us, it's worth a lot more because we're not even getting justice. He's free, and he lives in the same neighborhood as the mother's family. So why is he free? The family has been harassed. Why has he not revoked the bond just yet? We ask for justice for (Alvarez)," said Bianca Mejia, Alvarez's aunt.

SEE RELATED STORY: 'Justice for Diamond': Family and community call for 17-year-old murder suspect's bond to be revoked

Sandra Thompson, professor of Criminal Law at the University of Houston Law Center, said judges are required to set reasonable bail for all defendants with few exceptions.

"Some factors a judge may take into consideration when setting bail is the defendants' age, criminal history, and potential threat to the victim or public, other pending charges or cases and if the defendant is a flight risk," Thompson said.

Thompson said historically, judges in Harris County go by a bail schedule that calls for a $50,000 bond for defendants facing a murder charge. Both Thompson and ABC13's legal expert, Steve Shellist, said based on the bail schedule, $250,000 would be considered a high bond.

"The judge may have thought that the person would not have access," Thompson said. "Now, one of the challenges is that bondsmen are not requiring the full amount, they never have. The assumption was it was 10% but we hear of bondsmen setting it as low as 2% and so the judge doesn't know how much money the bondsmen is ultimately going to require so the decision-making at the end of the day is coming from the bondsmen," Shellist said.

SEE RELATED: Bonds as low as $10 given to inmates, including some charged with violent crimes

Mejia said they are not going to give up and want to see a real effective change to the criminal justice system.

"We ask that the bail bonds not only ask for money," Mejia said, "Not only ask for a property and not only ask for 10%. (Alvarez's) life is not worth 10% Her life was worth more than a piece of property. We ask for justice for (Alvarez)."

Dane Schiller, a spokesperson for the Harris County District Attorney's Office sent the following statement regarding the family's request:

"We are fully focused on getting justice for (Alvarez). We fully support getting violent criminals off our streets, and we will do everything in our power to convict the defendant of this vicious murder and deliver justice to (Alvarez's) family, her friends, and the entire community."
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