Judge cuts bond by nearly $1.9 million for man accused of car crash that injured Sen. Manchin's wife

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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) — An Alabama judge cut bond by nearly $1.9 million on Tuesday for a man accused of fleeing from police during a car chase and causing a crash last January that injured Gayle Manchin, the wife of U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, and a work colleague.

Tradarryl Rishad Boykins, 31, of Birmingham, is charged with two counts of second-degree assault, felony attempting to elude, and certain persons forbidden to possess a firearm – also a felony – in connection with the Jan. 29 crash.

District Judge William Bell cut Boykins’ bond — originally set at more than $2 million — to a total of $135,000, al.com reported. Bond is typically set to ensure a defendant’s return to court and to protect the community at large.

Boykins' attorneys — Juandalynn Givan and Reginald McDaniel — sought the reduction, telling the judge at a hearing Tuesday that the previous bond amounts were excessive and only set that high because Manchin is the wife of West Virginia's Democratic U.S. senator.

Four of the bonds for the charges of assault, attempting to elude and persons forbidden to possess a firearm initially were set at $500,000 each but were cut to a total of $75,000.

“Clearly, bail was excessive in this matter,’’ Bell said.

Gayle Manchin, 76, is the federal co-chair of the Appalachian Regional Commission and was in Birmingham with commission colleague Guy Land for an event involving that economic development partnership of the federal government and 13 state governments.

Just before the crash, Homewood Police Sgt. John Carr said, officers had tried to stop a car in connection with a felony warrant and a traffic offense. He said a seven-minute police chase wound through that Birmingham suburb and surrounding areas and ended when the fleeing car struck the SUV carrying the two.

Both Gayle Manchin and Land, the commission's congressional liaison, were injured in the crash. Manchin was a passenger in the SUV driven by Land.

At Tuesday's hearing, Jefferson County Deputy District Attorney Deborah Danneman asked that Boykins’ bonds actually be increased. Danneman said the defendant's alleged behavior, beginning in December 2023, escalated leading up to the crash in which Manchin suffered a broken sternum and internal bleeding and Land sustained eight broken ribs and a broken hand.

“He has continuously shown blatant evidence that he will not return to court,’’ Danneman said of Boykin. “He has fled from law enforcement, endangering members of the public.”

Givan responded that Boykins has always shown for his court proceedings in the past. And she noted that at least a dozen family members of Boykins were present in court to support him, as well as his pastor.

“He has very strong family support,’’ she said. “We are asking for a bond reduction that would allow him to be placed back out into civilization.”

Following the hearing, Givan called the judge’s ruling fair.

“Had this been me or you or any ordinary citizen, (Boykins) would have been charged with reckless driving,’’ she said. “I think because of who the victims were in this case that bond was excessive, so much so that it made it unfair, unconstitutional, because it almost convicted him before he had an opportunity to have a fair trial.”

Boykins waived his right to a preliminary hearing and the case has been sent to a grand jury for consideration.

Gayle Manchin was sworn in as the Appalachian Regional Commission’s 13th federal co-chair in 2021 after being nominated by President Joe Biden. Joe Manchin, a former West Virginia governor later elected to the Senate, announced last month that he would not seek reelection.