Effingham Daily News, Effingham, IL

October 23, 2012

Judge denies bond reduction

Bill Grimes
Effingham Daily News

EFFINGHAM — An Effingham County judge denied a motion Monday to reduce bond for a rural Effingham man accused of shooting another man in the buttocks earlier this month.

    Judge Ericka Sanders cited the serious nature of the charges against Byron R. Mesnard, 20, in making her decision after a bond reduction hearing Monday in Circuit Court.

    “Considering the serious nature of this offense, I am unwilling to reduce bond at this time,” Sanders said. “A dangerous weapon was repeatedly fired in the direction of an individual.”

     Mesnard had been held in Effingham County Jail in lieu of $500,000 bond since turning himself in last week on charges of aggravated battery with a firearm and aggravated discharge of a firearm. He is accused of shooting Shane Gephart, 23, outside his home early on the morning of Sept. 30.

    Effingham County State’s Attorney Ed Deters said during Monday’s hearing that Gephart has returned to work after being hospitalized for gunshot wounds to the buttocks. Deters added Gephart did not want to see the bond reduced.

    Deters said the only reason bond reduction is even an issue stems from Mesnard’s own injuries. The defendant accidentally shot himself in the chin and told Sanders Monday that he will face surgery to remove a bullet behind his left eye.

    “Were it not for the medical condition of the defendant, this would be a no-brainer,” Deters said. “We object (to bond reduction), but I understand the defendant’s medical issues and leave the decision to the court.”

    Defense attorney Scott Ealy asked for recognizance bond or bond “of a nominal nature.”

    Ealy argued that Mesnard had established a record of compliance in the case by surrendering to authorities immediately after probable cause was found last week.

    Alan Harris, the defendant’s grandfather, testified that he and other family members would make sure Mesnard complied with all bond conditions.

    “Why do you have that confidence?” Ealy said.

    “He’s a good kid,” replied Harris, who then burst into tears on the witness stand.

    “I think he’ll do whatever you want him to do,” Harris later added.

    Harris, a semi-retired barber and longtime Effingham city commissioner, said he removed all firearms from Mesnard’s home.

    Harris said he and his family could come up with about $2,000 cash to bail out his grandson. Anything beyond that, he said, would require arrangements to be made that might include taking out a mortgage on his downtown Effingham barber shop.

    Ealy said after the hearing that he was “disappointed” in the judge’s decision.

    “But I have great respect for the court and the court’s authority,” he said. “I believe my client’s family will make every effort to bail him out.”

    Jail officials said that Mesnard did indeed post the $50,000 cash required for his release soon after the hearing.

    Bill Grimes can be reached at 217-347-7151, ext. 132, or at bill.grimes@effinghamdailynews.com.