OGDEN -- Due to an error between the state’s uniform bail schedule and the Weber County Sheriff’s Office, a suspect in an Ogden homicide case was allowed to post bail despite a no-bail order from a judge.
Cory Michael Fitzwater, a 35-year-old Hooper resident, pleaded not guilty during his initial appearance Wednesday to two charges: one count of murder, a first-degree felony, and possession of a firearm by a restricted person, a third-degree felony.
On Thursday, Aug. 16, the body of 28-year-old Brian Racine was found near Ogden’s 21st Street Pond around 4 a.m. Police first categorized Racine’s death as “suspicious,” but it was later revealed that Racine had apparently died from a gunshot wound.
During a traffic stop an hour prior to the discovery of Racine’s body, Fitzwater and another man, 27-year-old Dalton James Aiken, were arrested after police found narcotics and a .45 caliber gun in the car. Police later found that the gun matched a bullet casing found near Racine’s body.
During an interview with police, Aiken reportedly said the two went to the transient camp to “find and harass” homeless people, according to a probable cause statement.
Fitzwater was booked in the Weber County Jail just after midnight on Friday, Aug. 17. He posted a $20,000 bond shortly after he was booked in jail on suspicion of murder.
Later that morning, around 9 a.m., an order to hold Fitzwater without bail was approved by a district court judge.
The miscommunication and error occurred during the booking process, according to Lt. Joshua Marigoni, spokesman for the sheriff’s office and jail. Marigoni said Fitzwater was supposed to be booked under the state’s statute for criminal homicide, 76-5-203.
However, the criminal code did not appear in the state’s uniform bail schedule when jail personnel tried to enter Fitzwater’s alleged offense into the jail system, Marigoni said. If an offense isn’t listed in the bail schedule, offenses are ranked by degree and assigned a default bail amount.
In Fitzwater’s case the system defaulted to “other 1st degree” felony, which defaulted to a $20,000 bail amount.
Fitzwater posted bail and was released from police custody before the no-bail order was signed by the judge.
It wasn’t until Sept. 6 that a new no-bail arrest warrant was issued for Fitzwater, according to court documents.
The following day, the issue was addressed during a telephone conference hearing. “The court reports the jail did not have the authority to allow the defendant to be released by posting bail pursuant to the bail schedule,” according to the court docket. “The court finds the defendant was released in error.”
The court determined that Fitzwater was released before a judge could review the probable cause affidavit and determine an appropriate bail amount, according to a court record filed Monday, Sept. 10.
The same day, Fitzwater turned himself into the Weber County Jail around noon and has been held without bail since, according to jail booking reports. Fitzwater has been cooperative through the legal process thus far, according to Marigoni.
Marigoni said the issue between the jail’s bail system and the state bail schedule has been resolved, and he doesn’t foresee this issue happening again.
Fitzwater’s next court date in Ogden’s 2nd District Court is scheduled for Sept. 26.
Aiken posted a $100,000 bond after he was booked in Weber County Jail on Friday, Aug. 27. He is not in police custody, and his initial appearance in court is scheduled for Oct. 3.