Judge in Md. Murder Trial: ‘I Don't Believe Bail System Is Fair'

A man accused of first-degree murder is out of jail ahead of his trial after a judge’s controversial decision that has police and prosecutors frustrated.

Kidney transplant survivor Jonathan Harris, 26, was strangled during a robbery at his Silver Spring home in December.

Three suspects were arrested and charged with first-degree murder, including 32-year-old Dion Sobotker.

He was held in jail without bond until a hearing Wednesday when Montgomery County Judge Gary Bair decided to release him on a $500,000 unsecured bond, which means he is not required to put up any money.

“I don’t believe the bail system is fair when you set a bond in an amount that no one can make it,” Bair said. “Doesn’t make sense to me.”

Sobotker is under home detention with electronic monitoring.

"It causes me great concern,” Montgomery County Police Chief Tom Manger said. “In my 39 years in police work I've never seen someone involved in a home invasion and homicide released like this back out on the street.”

“Because of the serious nature of the crimes and the public safety concerns with anyone charged with those kinds of crimes, it’s something we want to carefully look at,” State’s Attorney John McCarthy said.

The administrative judge of the court said, “The court would not be able to comment because it's an open case and the court is ethically precluded from making comments.”

Harris, was a participant in a huge kidney-transplant exchange involving 32 people, a donation program that was covered on the "Today" show when it happened in 2010. His mother, Patricia, had donated her own kidney to someone else.

Contact Us