BELTON — The Killeen man whose bond was set at a record-setting $4 billion by a former justice of the peace will be sentenced Thursday for murder.
Antonio Marquis Willis’ name skyrocketed into national news after the Telegram reported in February 2017 former Bell County Justice of the Peace Claudia Brown set the unconstitutional bond for a 2016 murder charge.
The 28-year-old Willis remained Monday in the Bell County Jail with bonds that totaled $657,500. Included with the $500,000 bond set for the murder charge are a felony drug charge and one for evading arrest or detention with a vehicle. Willis will also be sentenced on those charges.
Representing Willis on the first-degree murder charge is Billy Ray Hall, and Michael Magana is his attorney on the lesser felony charges. The prosecuting attorney for the case is listed on the docket as Leslie McWilliams.
Willis admitted he shot and killed Donte Javon Samuels, 22, on Dec. 22, 2016. Samuels was found dead in a front yard at 4103 Water St. in Killeen. Samuels reportedly showed up at the home three times, and Willis reportedly shot him the third time after opening the door and telling Samuels to leave, an arrest affidavit said.
He was captured by the Nolanville Police Department after he fled from a traffic stop.
Brown told the Telegram that she used Willis’ charge as an opportunity to make a political statement. She said she wanted to prove a point to others who thought she set bail amounts too low.
A jury in February 2019 decided Brown should be removed from her elected position. The jurors unanimously decided 16 of 17 issues were true and that Brown engaged in official misconduct, was grossly incompetent or grossly negligent and had physical or mental defects she didn’t have when she was elected in November 2016.
Willis’ bond was lowered to $150,000 when the district attorney’s office filed a motion to reduce it. He was released from jail after he posted bail.
As a result of the bond debacle, Bell County district judges began to review bond amounts set for offenders by justices of the peace to prevent Bell County from possibly being sued.
Willis’ case was twice set for jury trial on the murder charge — Dec. 4 and July 15.
He was twice imprisoned in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice. Willis was last released May 16, 2013.