Man's bond increased to $400,000

Published 12:00 am Saturday, April 28, 2012

By Shavonne Potts
A judge on Friday dramatically increased the bond for a man convicted in 1983 of killing his former wife and daughter and charged this week with molesting a 4-year-old girl.
Jimmy Lee Farmer, 58, saw his bond go from $50,000 to $400,000 in a hearing before Rowan County District Court Judge Kevin Eddinger.
Farmer turned himself in Tuesday. He was charged by the Rowan County Sheriff’s Office with first-degree sex offense of a child and indecent liberties with a child. A Sheriff’s Office report said the child and an adult were visiting Farmer, of Burkesway Drive, on March 8 when the incident occurred.
An official with the Sheriff’s Office said a public outcry over the initial bond amount may have played a part in the judge’s decision to review and ultimately increase it. But the county’s top prosecutor said the hearing may have been a more routine matter requested during Farmer’s first court appearance.
Farmer was released in 2007 after spending about 24 years in prison for beating his 28-year-old ex-wife, Janice Marie Farmer, and their 8-year-old daughter, Donna Marie Farmer, to death with a piece of wood in Thomasville.
He was sentenced to consecutive 50-year sentences in 1984. Farmer was able to earn early release under the state’s old Fair Sentencing laws.
At the time of the incident, authorities said he was arguing with his ex-wife over support payments and tried to leave with his daughter. Janice Farmer hit him, and Jimmy Farmer attacked both mother and daughter with a two-by-four, authorities said, then left their bodies in a wooded area in Davidson County.
When Farmer was charged this week, his initial bond was set by magistrate Mark Wilhelm, court records show.
Capt. John Sifford of the Rowan County Sheriff’s Office said Eddinger was concerned about the bond amount and set a hearing to review it.
“I believe the public reaction to the original bond may have had an influence on that decision, but nevertheless, it is a much more suitable bond,” Sifford said.
District Attorney Brandy Cook said she could not say whether public reaction had an influence on the bond amount. She said the judge decided during Farmer’s first court appearance on Tuesday to set a bond review hearing.
“The court asked at the first appearance to review the bond, then the court reset to review the bond and our office had the opportunity to address the bond,” she said.
Cook said a judge may order a bond review to increase or lower a bond.
The purpose of a bond, according to state law, is to ensure someone who is charged appears in court. Factors include whether the person poses a danger to anyone or is likely to destroy evidence, commit perjury or intimidate a potential witness.
A magistrate or judge typically follows suggested bond amounts for reference when determining bonds.
The magistrate or judge looks at the offense and can then refer to a suggested minimum and maximum amount for a bond. A bond can fall within the minimum and maximum range.
The suggested bond amount for felony sex offense of a child is from $25,000 up to $350,000.
The suggested bond amount for felony indecent liberties with a child is from $4,500 up to $35,000.
There are several factors that a judge or magistrate can consider in determining which conditions of release to impose, including:
• Based on available information, the nature and circumstances of the offense charged.
• The weight of the evidence against the defendant.
• The defendant’s family ties, employment, financial resources, character and mental condition.
• Whether the defendant is intoxicated to such a degree that he would be a danger if released without supervision.
• The length of his residence in the community.
• His record of convictions.
• His history of flight to avoid prosecution or failure to appear at court proceedings.
• Any other relevant evidence.
Contact reporter Shavonne Potts at 704-797-4253.