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DA and police union agree that system issues failed two murdered sisters

The murder suspect, despite an extensive criminal record, was released on a $15,000 bond just days before the murders of two sisters at Texas A&M Commerce

DALLAS — Questions about the low-bail release of a suspect now accused of three murders, including the deaths of his estranged girlfriend and her sister in a Texas A&M Commerce dorm, have a police union representative and the Dallas County District Attorney agreeing on one thing:  the legal system failed Abbaney and Deja Matts.

"This was preventable. We failed this family," said Dallas Police Association President Michael Mata. "The whole justice system as a whole failed this family." 

"This is the worst case scenario I've been talking about. This is exactly it," said Dallas County District Attorney John Creuzot in a separate interview with WFAA. "This is what I've been saying can happen."

Jacques Dshawn Smith, 21, already had a lengthy criminal record, when he was arrested for attacking Abbaney Matts on Jan. 27.  

RELATED: History of violence: Suspect in three killings was out on a $15,000 bond

An arrest affidavit says Smith attacked Matts after she told him "they needed a break." Smith broke a lamp over her head. She told police that it "left her dazed" but she kept telling him to leave. She said that he took a TV and threw it at her while she was in the kitchen, the affidavit says. 

After he hit her with the TV, he "body slammed" her on the tile floor and then hit her head with a metal frying pan several times, the warrant says.  Then, the police document says, Smith took a knife, held it above Abbaney Matts and threatened to kill her. 

Abbaney Matts told police Smith stopped attacking her after her brother showed up. 

Smith was arrested on an aggravated assault charge Jan. 27, but a municipal court judge in Garland set a $15,000 bond on Jan. 29.  Smith posted the 10% required to be released from jail. Days later the sisters would be dead.

Credit: wfaa
Deja and Abbaney Matts

"Yes, a $15,000 bond for this person was too low," Creuzot agreed. "But I think it's a technology problem. I think it's a systemic problem."

Creuzot says the municipal judge, John Sholden, did not have enough specific information on Smith's prior crimes and convictions because computer systems are not fully integrated enough to provide him with all of the specific details of a suspect's past offenses. 

An aggravated robbery charge in 2016, for which he received five years probation, is among Smith's prior arrests.

"Our technology is very poor in Dallas County from systems like this from a municipal court to the types of information that we have inside the Dallas County system," Creuzot said. "Personally, I feel that Judge Sholden, had he known all the facts and all the background of this particular individual, that he would have set a much higher bond or no bond at all. I feel very certain about that."

"Because the systems aren't integrated for him to have that and he relied upon all that he had," he said, also clarifying that prosecutors are not allowed to attend these bail decisions as the person arrested is not yet represented by a defense attorney.

"He's in a no win situation," Creuzot said of the municipal court judge. "He doesn't have an attorney for either side and he doesn't have access to the information. So, he did it based on what he had before him."

"I'm tired of the DA pointing fingers at the judge. I'm tired of the judges pointing the finger at the magistrates," said Dallas Police Association President Mike Mata. "They've got to get their house in order. And we've all got to do our part in dropping violent crime."

"It takes too long for the left hand to tell the right hand what's going on. And that's failure in the system itself," Mata said. 

"He knew he needed to get out quick," he said of Jacques Smith. "And that $15,000 bail allowed him to do it. And that's why those two girls are dead."

"And this is not about bail reform. We all believe in bail reform," Mata added. "Those low level offenders, those non-violent offenders, yes they should have a reasonable bail to get out so they can meet their court date. This is about violent felons, career criminals that are taking advantage of the citizens of Dallas and making them victims. And that's gotta stop."

On Wednesday, a second capital murder charge was added after investigators found evidence that linked Smith to the Dec. 31 shooting of 22-year-old Steven Daniels. 

RELATED: Alleged killer of 2 women at Texas A&M-Commerce also linked to New Year's Eve slaying, police say

Investigators were searching a Rowlett home in connection with the Monday slayings, when they found evidence linking Smith to the New Year's Eve slaying, according to Denton police. 

Daniels died of a gunshot wound to the chest, according to the medical examiner. 

Denton police have now also obtained a capital murder arrest warrant for Smith in connection with Daniels' death. 

He is accused along with 23-year-old Jalin Hargrove and 26-year-old Earnest Rogers, Denton police say. 

Denton officers responded to the shooting call around 11:30 p.m. on Dec. 31 in the 900 block of Cleveland Street. They found Daniels lying inside the apartment complex's gated parking lot near Eagle Drive.  

Police said the evidence found in Rowlett connected Smith and the two others to Daniels' death. 

Smith is in custody in Hunt County held on $1 million each for both the Hunt County and Denton County charges. Hargrove and Rogers are now in custody in Denton County, each in lieu of $1 million bail.