Suspect released from jail without bail despite charges he burglarized home while armed

Despite facing felony charges including burglary with a firearm, coercion and unlawful use of a weapon, Cody Baird, 20, was released from the Marion County jail without bail on April 8. The sheriff's office says his release was aimed at preventing overcrowding.

A Salem man is outraged after a suspect he said held him at gunpoint during a burglary was released from jail without posting bail.

The Marion County Sheriff's Office said the suspect, Cody Baird, 20, was let out to prevent overcrowding.

Baird faces multiple felony charges including burglary with a firearm, coercion and unlawful use of a weapon. Still the jail let him go without paying the $140,000 bail set by the judge, and despite the fact that Baird was previously convicted of attempted robbery just two years ago.

Terry Dillman was at his home on Church Street Southeast with his German shepherd on the afternoon of Friday, March 3 when the incident started.

"I heard the doorbell ring upstairs," Dillman told KATU on Thursday. "I went up -- took 45 seconds to get there -- looked out the half-moon window in the front door and saw nobody there. ... I then saw a bicycle leaning against one front bush, which was a little odd. Just as I was coming back in, our alarm system was dinging. It was like, 'Ding, ding, ding!'and somebody was -- it sounded like they were pounding on the back door."

Dillman said when he got downstairs he heard Baird kicking in the back entrance.

He said his dog was cowering in the corner when he saw Baird.

"I immediately came right (to the back door)," Dillman said, "and I'm pretty much face to face with him and I said, 'Who the hell are you and what are you doing here?' And he gave me a story. He said, 'Oh, is Michael here?' And I said, 'No, there's no Michael here,' and he said, 'Well, he stole $10,000 from me.' Then I said, ‘No, no Michael here. I don’t care. And it’s almost like it just clicked and I said, ‘Did you just kick my door in? Then he said, ‘Yeah, yeah, but you can call 911, then your house insurance can take care of it. It was like -- no. I pulled my cellphone out, always keep it with me and I'm looking down and I say, 'Your damn right I'm calling 911 and you're gonna be here when they get here.' ... And when I looked up ... he had taken another step back. He had a gun pointed right at my chest and he said, 'No way, bro.'"

Dillman said he then held up his hands.

"I said, 'Whoa.' First thought was, 'Please don't pull the trigger,'" Dillman explained, "and then I got a little bit angry about it and I said, 'You've gotta be kidding me."

Dillman said at that point his dog walked up beside him as he stood in the doorway. He said he looked down at her and when he looked back up Baird was gone.

Dillman and a neighbor called 911 and hours later Baird was found and arrested.

He was locked up in the Marion County jail until April 8 when the sheriff's office said he was let go because the jail reached capacity.

"I'm a little perturbed about that. I'm a little stunned. We didn't know that he'd been released until we went into a hearing yesterday," Dillman said. "It's just very unnerving to know that he's out there probably holding a grudge 'cause he got caught."

The judge ordered Baird, who lives less than a quarter-mile from Dillman, to have no contact with him.

A sheriff's spokesman told KATU they use a standardized risk assessment procedure to decide who gets out when the jail reaches capacity. He claimed he could not say how often it happens only that the jail can go days and sometimes weeks without releasing inmates to prevent overcrowding, but they'll occasionally have to do so for several days in a row.

Neither the state Department of Corrections nor the Oregon State Sheriff's Association could provide statistics on how often inmates are released from jails to prevent overcrowding.

Baird is due back in court for a plea hearing on May 19.

He did not immediately respond to a voice mail left by a KATU reporter Thursday afternoon requesting comment.

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