MOBILE, Ala. (WALA) – A judge on Thursday denied a request from prosecutors to unbind a man who was convicted of murder last week.
It was a last-ditch effort by Mobile County prosecutors to overturn a decision by Judge Edward McDermott, a retired attorney who presided over David Cordero-Hernandez’s trial, because the permanent judge was suspended.
The jury found the defendant guilty of the December 2019 murder of Tracie Dennis over a dispute over money. Prosecutors allege Cordero-Hernandez assisted co-defendant Marcos Oslan, who was the shooter.
Typically, suspects in murder cases are imprisoned immediately after a guilty verdict. But McDermott — despite prosecution objections — ruled Cordero-Hernandez can remain free pending his Nov. 28 sentencing.
“It is still my intention that the accused remain in custody pending sentencing,” the judge said at Thursday’s hearing.
Cordero-Hernandez will remain free on the same terms as the $100,000 bond.
Prosecutors argued that Cordero-Hernandez posed “an extreme risk of absconding.” They cited his arrest in Jacksonville, Fla., almost a week after the fatal shooting and the fact that he went to New Jersey in 2020 despite orders that he remain under house arrest on electronic surveillance.
“That was never overturned,” Mobile County Assistant District Attorney Lauren Walsh said during Thursday’s hearing.
Defense attorney Dom Soto said the original electronic surveillance order required him to wear an ankle bracelet, but that none of the devices were available at the time. He said his client went to New Jersey to work for his brother but returned and has since completed all bail requirements.
“He got jobs with permits,” he told FOX10 News. “As soon as he found out there was a problem with it, he came back.”
The defendant’s bail officer told the judge Thursday that Cordero-Hernandez “was an excellent defendant” who caused him no problems.
McDermott made it clear early in the hearing that he had already considered broader arguments that Cordero-Hernandez posed a flight risk.
“The question of escape has been decided,” he said. “I don’t want to go into that.”
McDermott also addressed an unusual order issued last week to reverse his guilty verdict. This procedural maneuver does not change the verdict, but it did allow Cordero-Hernandez to be released on the original bond. On Thursday, McDermott told attorneys that another judge made the order on his behalf.
“I did not issue this order, but it was issued in my name,” he said. “I said yes.”
Prosecutors didn’t have much to say after the hearing.
“So that was ultimately up to the court and we objected, but that was the court’s decision today,” Walsh said.
Soto called it a “storm in a teapot” outside the courtroom.
“Any time something goes wrong with the prosecutor’s office that they don’t like, they call you guys,” he said.
Soto says his client is not a threat and not a risk of absconding. He says Cordero-Hernandez stayed for three years while the case was pending.
“You know, Cordero means lamb in Spanish,” he said. “And he’s a really gentle guy. He’s a special needs student, you know, lots of other mitigating things. … He was the softest defendant I have ever represented. He’s upset and he’s been an emotional asset.”
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