Michael Lee Sandoval had been out of jail on a personal recognizance bond for just a few days when he made his way from Pueblo to Colorado Springs, where he allegedly car-jacked a new victim.
He then drove up to Highlands Ranch, where he is accused of committing an armed robbery before heading up to Denver, where he was arrested.
After the arrest, and despite already being out on a PR bond in Pueblo for a robbery, a judge in Denver again released Sandoval on a PR bond, meaning that he only needed to sign his name to a statement promising to show up for his next court visit.
Just hours after being released, Sandoval, 31, was still wearing his jail shoes when he robbed someone and stole their car in a Safeway parking lot in east Denver before leading officers on a high-speed chase before being arrested.
His court-appointed attorney pushed for a third PR bond in roughly a week, but after the Denver District Attorney’s Office expressed concern about Sandoval’s record, a judge gave him a $50,000 cash-only bond.
A memo from a Denver detective, written after the arrest and obtained by Denver7 Investigates, also asked the court to keep Sandoval in jail, stating: “Please keep this guy in custody. He is violent and dangerous.”
Now, some of the state’s top law enforcement officers are saying this alleged crime spree — spanning four communities and more than 100 miles this past April — further demonstrates a lack of consequences for criminals in the court system.
“It sure would have been nice if this individual stayed in jail so there wasn’t future victims of crime,” Denver Police Chief Paul Pazen told Denver7 Investigates. “It was a very dangerous situation.”
Public records obtained by Denver7 Investigates describe Sandoval as a “career criminal,” “violent offender” and a “known gang member.” His record includes multiple felonies committed prior to the series of crimes in April.
Court records show that two days before his alleged crime spree, a magistrate in Pueblo County granted Sandoval his first of two PR bonds. A letter from Denver’s District Attorney’s Office, written to Denver7 Investigates, said the second PR bond was granted because the judge in the case did not find probable cause.
“Sadly, what has happened is this system is breaking down, and it’s telling the victims of crime you are not important,” Douglas County Sheriff Tony Spurlock said.
Sandoval’s criminal record also showed a history of failing to appear in court. However, his $50,000 cash-only bond has kept him in jail since his latest offenses. He is due back in court on Monday.
Sandoval is not alone in failing to appear for court dates. A previous Denver7 investigation showed that nearly one-third of suspects given PR bonds in Denver County Court failed to appear for a future court hearing.
Court officials in Denver declined to comment on their decisions regarding PR bonds.
“People deserve to be safe in their community,” Pazen said. “When you have repeat offenders that are getting multiple PR bonds throughout the entire state, we’ve got issues.”