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Police look for accused felon who fled as bail laws are phased in

Police look for accused felon who fled as bail laws are phased in

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The state’s new bail laws don’t start officially until Wednesday, but local police are already looking for an alleged home burglar and gun thief who fled the state in recent days after he was released on his own recognizance.

Courts around the state have been phasing in the new bail laws, which will result in many defendants who would have been jailed while awaiting trial being released with no bail.

Galen A. Tryon, 33, of Warrensburg, was released on his own recognizance in recent weeks after being arrested on two felony charges, including second-degree burglary. He allegedly went into a home on Pinewood Avenue in Queensbury last Aug. 27 to steal a shotgun and a small amount of cash. The Mossberg shotgun has not been recovered.

Second-degree burglary is punishable by up to 15 years in state prison and is filed when a person goes into a home to commit a crime. It is a charge for which defendants had to be arraigned and have bail set under current laws. But with the changes in the law, beginning Jan. 1, they will be released, even though the charge is considered a violent felony under state law.

Tryon also had been charged with felony forgery for cashing a stolen check at a store in Queensbury, court records show. Police said he is also a suspect in thefts of a car that was sold to a scrap metal dealer.

“He had been on a crime spree for a few months,” Warren County sheriff’s Lt. Steve Stockdale said.

Police recently learned that Tryon fled the state while awaiting disposition of the charges, and he missed a scheduled court appearance Monday in Queensbury Town Court.

“Now he’s on the run, so we add that element to his situation,” Stockdale said.

The bail reform changes have been widely criticized by police, prosecutors and many judges, because they do not give judges any leeway to gauge flight risk, criminal record or perceived danger when a defendant is brought before them. Charges either qualify to have bail set, or they don’t, starting Jan. 1.

Many justices in town, village and city courts have been phasing in the new requirements over the past few weeks, releasing defendants who have been jailed on offenses for which they will no longer be allowed to set bail as of Jan. 1. Queensbury Town Court is among them.

“We have been phasing it in since around the end of September,” said Glens Falls Judge Gary Hobbs, who supervises the region’s local court justices. “Bail arguments have been made as if the new laws applied. We wanted to make sure we were doing what the law required.”

When a defendant is sent to jail, a judge signs a “commitment” that spells out bail and release conditions. Over the past few weeks, many courts have been including on the commitments that the defendant must be released on Jan. 1 if they do not post bail beforehand. And if they are free on bail that was posted, that bail, whether it is cash or a bond, will be returned.

As a result of the phasing-in, jail populations have already fallen markedly.

Warren County Jail had 170 inmates in June 2018, and as of Monday morning had 86.

Warren County Sheriff Bud York said forecasts are that the population will fall to around 50.

In Washington County, Sheriff Jeff Murphy said his county jail population dropped from 77 to 64 over the past month. He said 53 are sentenced and serving jail terms, while only six are being held awaiting trial on serious felony charges that will keep them in jail after Jan. 1.

Murphy will become president of the New York State Sheriff’s Association next month. He said the organization plans to track what the defendants who would have been in jail under current bail practices do when released, how many are re-arrested and for what offenses and how many people are victimized that shouldn’t be.

“This will show real data as to what this (law change) has done,” he said. “We want to be wrong about what we think this is going to do, but we don’t think we will be.”

Don Lehman covers police and court matters, Warren County government and the outdoors. He can be reached at 518-742-3224 or dlehman@poststar.com

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reporter - crimes & courts, public safety and Warren County government

Don Lehman covers crime, Warren County government and the outdoors for The Post-Star. His work can be found on Twitter @PS_CrimeCourts and on poststar.com/app/blogs.

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