MEMPHIS, Tenn. — A Memphis mother is left with questions after her son’s accused killer is out on bond.
Verona Brooks-Brownlee held a picture of her son Roxton Toliver as she told us about the person he was. The 19-year-old boy was killed last month.
“Roxton was a great kid, very fun. He had an infectious laugh. One of those laughs you don’t hear too often. Very ambitious, had a lot of goals, a lot of dreams,” said Brooks-Brownlee.
Memphis Police said he was shot at an apartment complex in Frayser.
He was staying with his cousin, Jeremy Payne, when the two got into an argument. Police said they made threats to kill each other. Things escalated as Toliver, unarmed, turned to leave.
Video surveillance shows Payne shooting Toliver several times. His mother said he was shot in the back and later died at the hospital. Detectives said Payne told them he shot his cousin.
“His bond was first set at $100,000,” said Brooks-Brownlee.
But she said it was lowered to $50,000 after a bail hearing and he posted bond. Records show he doesn’t have previous prior run-ins with the law.
“My concern is that if a person commits a crime such as murder, which is very serious, I feel like that he or she should not be allowed to even have a bond,” said Brooks-Brownlee.
Her concerns come as Tennessee State Representative John Gillespie announces he’s passed legislation that will allow only criminal, circuit court and general sessions judges to set bond for cases involving a Class A or Class B felony, aggravated assault or felony domestic assault. Currently, bail can also be set by a judicial commissioner or a criminal or circuit court clerk.
We asked Shelby County District Attorney Steve Mulroy about the bill.
“As long as it’s limited to that, I don’t necessarily have a problem with it, you know having elected officials make the determination is fine by me,” he said. “I think, if it is as capacious as A and B felonies there may be some practical problems, just the flood of cases that will have to be decided by elected judges who have a lot of other responsibilities. That may end up being unworkable, I hope not, if it does pass.”
As there could be changes for setting bonds in the future, Brooks-Brownlee thinks about her son and his lost future.
“I just really feel he was denied the opportunity to live a really great life,” she said.
Records show Payne is set to be in court next month for a preliminary hearing.