There’s no question that the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak has transformed how judges nationwide analyze bond and imprisonment. Many charged with and convicted of comparatively less serious crimes have been ordered out of jail. As to serious alleged crimes, there’s the murder case of Iowa woman Gowun Park, 41.
This defendant saw a significant reduction of her bond. Dallas county Judge Michael Jacobsen said on Monday that the the defendant (who is from South Korea and has family there) was no longer a flight risk because of recent travel restrictions amid the outbreak, according to The Des Moines Register. Her dropped her bond from $5 million to $285,000, and she was able to get out of jail. Park has to submit to GPS monitoring and stick to Dallas and Polk counties only. Under the terms of her release, the defendant can only leave her home for things like food (but . . . uh . . . a lot of other people are already in that sort of situation).
Her defense would frame this as a benefit. Attorney Gina Messmer had argued that that Park required face-to-face meetings with lawyers to prepare for trial, but the COVID-19 pandemic was getting in the way because Dallas County Jail cut off in-person visits.
“The state has not yet provided discovery, but the materials will be voluminous and require in-person review,” she wrote. “There is no effective way for defense counsel to communicate with Ms. Park about these materials only over the phone.”
The prosecution maintained that the defense could still visit the client in jail face-to-face if defense attorneys submitted to health screening and having their temperature taken.
All that’s a moot point now that Park is out of custody. The defendant, an economics professor at Simpson College, is accused of killing her husband Sung Woo Nam, 41. Police said she tied him up and left him “bound and gagged.” She pleaded not guilty on March 13. Her attorney, Tammy Gentry, suggested that Nam was abusive.
[Mugshot via Dallas County Jail.]
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