A judge appointed by President Joe Biden released without bond in December the violent offender who on Friday murdered a woman after breaking into her Washington, D.C., hotel room.
A couple months after George Sydnor Jr. was arrested in October for armed robbery, Biden appointee Sean Staples, a D.C. superior court judge, took over his case and released him. Sydnor subsequently skipped his arraignment hearing and was issued a warrant for his arrest. Staples's ruling came just two weeks after a different judge had denied Sydnor bail, citing his criminal history. Since 2000, Sydnor has been convicted of several felonies and misdemeanors including domestic violence, armed robbery, and rape, according to a Washington Free Beacon review of court records.
Just four months after his release, Sydnor was arrested covered in blood at the scene of the slaying of Christy Bautista, 31, on April 1 and charged with first degree murder. Authorities say Sydnor broke in and stabbed Bautista at least 33 times with a kitchen knife.
Biden nominated Staples in January 2021, and the Senate confirmed his appointment the following month. Thirty-eight Republicans voted against his confirmation.
Bautista’s death follows a string of high-profile grizzly assaults and murders in the nation’s capital since the start of the year. Democratic representative Angie Craig (Minn.) was attacked in her building just blocks away from the Capitol in February, and last month a senior staffer for Sen. Rand Paul (R., Ky.) was nearly killed in a stabbing in a nearby neighborhood. Both suspects in those incidents had lengthy criminal backgrounds but were allowed to walk due to leniency by either prosecutors or judges.
The DC Metropolitan Police Department declined to comment on Sydnor’s record.
Soaring violent crime in Washington, D.C., was front and center during Staples's confirmation hearing. Then-senator Rob Portman (R., Ohio) asked Staples what he believes the role of the judiciary is in remedying the increase in murders plaguing Washington, D.C., and cited the city’s police chief blaming judges for not giving violent offenders prison time.
Staples stopped short of offering an answer on what the judiciary can do to lower D.C.’s crime rate and instead promised to look at "cases very carefully and decide them as fairly and as impartially as we can."
"I do believe my role is really just to listen and really focus, however, and listen to the cases that are before me, with a heightened focus, to be able to deal with these issues effectively," he said.
Biden signed into law last month a Republican-led resolution to roll back an overhaul of D.C.’s criminal code. The city’s reforms included lowering prison sentences for a litany of offenses, including gun crimes. Biden’s decision not to veto the bill was seen by some as an effort to counter accusations that he is weak on crime in the lead up to his reelection campaign.
Update 5:52 p.m.: This piece has been updated to correct Judge Staples's first name. It is Sean, not Chris. The Free Beacon regrets the error.