Amerson's bail reduced, new trial date set
The 8th anniversary of the shooting that led to the death of Texas State University student, Justin Gage, marked another significant event in the case Wednesday in Hays County.
Devonte Amerson, who is currently charged with capital murder in connection to Gage’s death on Dec. 6, 2015 and who has been in jail since March 5, 2018, received a reduction in his bond, which is likely to allow him to be released pending trial sometime next week.
According to Hays County Court Records, a trial had been set for February 2024 but is now scheduled for June 10, 2024.
Amerson’s bond reduction to $50,000 was granted one year and one month after his former co-defendant Cyrus Gray, previously charged with capital murder, was released from the Hays County Jail on the strength of a similar bond reduction, and later had the charge of capital murder dropped by the Hays County District Attorney. Devonte has been in the correctional facility since March 5, 2018, awaiting trial.
Supporters of both Amerson and Gray have stated throughout the long history of this case that there is not enough evidence available that would justify the charge against Amerson.
“I’m in total support of Justin Gage’s family getting justice, but not at the expense of my son,” Chelesta Amerson, mother of the defendant, said during a press conference held Wednesday. “The wrong has to be righted.”
Her remarks came prior to the bond reduction hearing before Judge Bruce Boyer of the 22nd Judicial District Court.
Mano Amiga, a local activist group that previously raised funds for a new attorney for Amerson— David Sergi of San Marcos, called the press conference at which family and supporters of Amerson pleaded for a reduced bond.
Sergi said arrangements are underway in the event that Amerson is released next week for him to reside with a family in the city, allowing for what he said would be his reintegration into the community after more than five years in jail.
“We got the right results,” Sergi said, in an interview with the Record late Wednesday. “I’m so grateful. … Hopefully next week some time he’ll be out.”
Sergi said that Amerson’s trial is now listed as one that will have the designation of a special setting, which denotes that it gets top priority from the county at the time it begins.
“It means 99.9% that day, no other case should be ahead of it,” Sergi said.
Hays County District Attorney Kelly Higgins stated, in an email to the Record, that Amerson’s June 10, 2024 has a preferential setting for a jury trial.
“We hope to try the case on that date, and the preferential setting, agreed to by the defense and the court, is the best way to assure that the case is tried without further delay,” Higgins stated. “The office has no formal statement regarding the trial, beyond the implicit message that we believe in the case and look forward to trial and seeing justice applied.”
Shannon Fitzpatrick, attorney and former Mano Amiga board member, said she is greatly disappointed that both cases have not been fully dismissed.
“Cyrus and Devonte are now victims themselves. Devonte has been sitting in a cell for over six years without a trial. This is not justice,” Fitzpatrick said. “ Devonte should be able to go home to his little boy and his family who love him and miss him. Let us all pray that the abomination that happened to him does not happen to our children, to our friends and our loved ones because if it happened to him, it can happen to us.”
During Wednesday's press conference, Dr. Christine Tata, a reverend at a local church, read a letter written by Dr. Melinda Rothouse–a juror in Gray’s trial, in hopes of bringing the letter to the attention of the honorable Judge Bruce Boyer.
“‘The case against Cyrus has now been dismissed due to lack of evidence, which I support. In keeping with the dismissal of Mr. Gray’s case, I support a bond reduction for Mr. Amerson so that he may be released from jail after six years awaiting trial. I believe him to be innocent of the charges against him, and I do not believe he represents a danger to the community,’” Tata read from Rothouse’s letter. “‘Having served as a juror and examining the facts of this case. I do not believe there is any tangible evidence, whatsoever— no eyewitnesses, no fingerprints, no weapon, no motive—linking either Devonte Amerson or Cyrus Gray to the crime in question. … These publications [have written articles about the cases against Gray and Amerson that] detail the dearth (lack) of evidence against both defendants and a number of other issues, including problems with the investigation and a years-long pretrial detention of these young men.”
Mano Amiga is now raising funds in order to pay Amerson’s bail and have him released for the holidays.