Texas Lawmakers Draft New Bill to Deny Bail to Capital Murder Accused

Texas Lt. Governor Dan Patrick in late June urged the Texas Legislature to pass bail reform legislation that would automatically deny bail to those accused of capital murder.

The bill, SJR 44, cleared the Texas Senate with bipartisan support but has been blocked multiple times in the state House by Republican Speaker Dade Phelan.

The legislation would place a measure on the ballot to allow voters to amend the state Constitution to automatically deny bail to suspected capital murderers.

In a June 27 post on X, the Republican Lt. Governor noted that he had just attended the funeral for Jocelyn Nungaray, the 12-year-old Houston girl who was abducted, raped, and murdered by two Venezuelan illegal aliens on June 17.

Patrick said Nungaray’s parents were “shocked” that one of the suspects was granted bail.

The Lt. Governor said the Texas Senate passed state Senator Joan Huffman’s “strong bail reform” on “several occasions with overwhelming bipartisan support” only to have the legislation die in the state House due to the opposition of a few Democrats and Speaker Phalan.

He suggested that if the state House had not killed the bill during the last legislative session, both of Jocelyn’s killers would have been denied bail.

Patrick said in his post that he assured Jocelyn’s mother that the state Senate would again pass the bill and that he would ensure that the state House did not kill the bill this time around.

The Lt. Governor said that he told Mrs. Nungaray that SJR 44 would be named “Jocelyn’s Law” so her daughter would “never be forgotten” and no capital murderer in Texas would ever be granted bail again.

Patrick said the state Senate would “enhance” the bill to ensure that those suspected of murdering a child under 15 would be eligible for the death penalty. Under the current law, defendants are only eligible for the death penalty for murdering a child under the age of 10.

State Senator Huffman responded to Lt. Governor Patrick’s post by confirming that she would file “Jocelyn’s Law” on the first day new bills can be filed for the upcoming legislative session.