Herrod released from jail for medical reasons

Published 8:28 pm Monday, March 27, 2017

A 53-year-old Selma man that was charged with the murder of a 29-year-old woman in 2015 was released from jail last week for medical reasons.

According to Dallas County Sheriff Harris Huffman, James Herrod was released last Friday because the of the severity of his illness and because the county cannot afford to continue paying for medical treatment.

“We’ve been paying for his treatments and we’re already over $200,000,” Huffman said.

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“I went and talked with circuit judge and told him what the problem was. Mr. Herrod is really not getting any better.”

After consideration, Judge Marvin Wiggins issued an order to release Herrod, along with stipulations of his release.

“The judge sent an order and about two pages of restrictions,” Huffman said.

“His family members said they would make sure that he follows the restrictions because he’ll be staying with family members.”

According to the order, Herrod will be confined to his home and “shall not be outside the confinement of his home at any time, except to receive medical treatment.”

The order specifies doctors Herrod is allowed to visit as well as a church.

The order states Herrod is not allowed to violate any laws while released, and contact is forbidden between himself and Johnson’s family and vice versa. 

The order requires Herrod to file documents with the court to verify his treatment and doctor visits as well.

“This was really done with a lot of reflection and best interest to all the parties,” said Cecil Fields, Herrod’s attorney. “He’s not getting out. He’s not being freed. He’s very closely being observed.”

Huffman said the county has been paying for treatments for the last several months, and with a limited budget, he had to make a decision.

“My concern is he is extremely ill, and to be in a county jail and being that sick, it’s really hard to give him the medical attention that he needs,” Huffman said.

“It’s expensive, and its taxpayers’ money. As the sheriff and working on limited budgets … I think with him being this sick after several months it was time to do something else.”

Huffman said the jail’s budget for medical treatment is around $100,000, so Herrod’s treatment has put them well over budget.

“I know there’s people that wished we didn’t do it, but I’m looking at the long run,” Huffman said. “I’ve got other sick inmates, and we’ve done gone over our allotted medical expenses, and the majority of it went through him.”

Dallas County District Attorney Michael Jackson said he is against Herrod’s release.

“I have a problem with these murderers and rapists and others being released because they say they’re sick,” Jackson said.

“It ain’t going to stop him just because he’s sick from killing somebody else. Not to mention, that just doesn’t look good to the family.”

Johnson’s mother, Carolyn Elaine Steele, said she feels the same way.

“I don’t think he should be released regardless,” she said.

“They say he’s sick, but that doesn’t mean anything. My daughter never had that chance, and he’s having another chance out there. I’m very against him being released.”

Steele said it has been tough on her family since her daughter’s death.

“Every day I struggle with that, her being gone and everything and how she had to leave here like that and not being able to have a chance” she said. “We miss her every day. It’s prayer and the Lord that’s getting us through it day by day.”

James Herrod was arrested Feb. 26, 2015, after an investigation into Crystal Johnson’s death.

His bond was set at $1 million. Johnson was found unconscious on the side of the road on Feb. 23, 2015, on County Road 74 near Old Montgomery Highway. She passed away after being taken to Vaughan Regional Medical Center.

An autopsy revealed Johnson died from blunt force trauma, which investigators believe was caused by being hit by a vehicle or run over.

Herrod was identified as a suspect in the case through tips detectives received about Johnson riding around with him in an older model brown Ford pickup truck.

According to the order from Judge Wiggins, there will be a pre-trial conference on May 30, 2017, and a trial on June 12, 2017.

Attempts to reach Judge Wiggins Monday were not successful.