Public Safety

Cedar Rapids man picks up additional domestic assault charge after bail reduced

James Ward
James Ward

CEDAR RAPIDS — A Cedar Rapids man who pleaded guilty and was sentenced to five years in prison for assaulting a woman, posted an appeal bond, was released and then arrested again, accused of beating up the same woman.

Assistant Linn County Attorney Rena Schulte this week asked a judge to set higher bail for James R. Ward, 36.

But 6th Judicial District Judge Lars Anderson lowered Ward’s bail to cash or surety, which allows a percentage of the bail to be posted, after which a defendant is release.

Ward remains free pending his trial in the second assault.

According to court records, Ward has at least three previous convictions for domestic assault and other convictions for harassment, criminal mischief and possession of marijuana with intent to deliver.

In January, Ward pleaded guilty to assault causing bodily injury, domestic abuse-penalty enhanced and second-degree harassment. Ward’s girlfriend told police Ward shoved her against a wall and hit her several times in the arm, causing visible injuries, on Oct. 30, 2018, according to the criminal complaint.

The prosecution made a plea agreement for probation because the victim wasn’t a cooperating witness.

But 6th Judicial District Judge Mary Chicchelly, during the February sentencing, said she wouldn’t go along with the plea agreement that would have suspended Ward’s five-year prison term and put him on probation.

Ward said he didn’t want to withdraw his plea and asked to be sentenced to the five years.

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Ward was then arrested on a new charge of assault causing bodily injury, domestic abuse-penalty enhanced.

He is accused of assaulting the same woman from the 2018 incident on May 8. The woman told police Ward assaulted her more than once by hitting her in the face, which caused visible swelling and bruising. During this incident, Ward resisted arrest, and officers had to use a Taser, according to police.

Schulte asked the court to raise his bond to $50,000 based on the new charge, but Anderson lowered the previous $10,000 cash bond to cash or surety on Tuesday.

Ward, also on Tuesday, then filed an appeal, arguing the plea agreement wasn’t honored by the court and Schulte didn’t stick with the plea and deferred to the judge’s discretion.

Ward’s new lawyer, in the appeal, argues the court should toss out the sentencing and resentence Ward based on the plea agreement.

Ward paid $1,500 for a surety bond and remains free pending the appeal.

Comments: (319) 398-8318; trish.mehaffey@thegazette.com

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