HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) — A Houston woman accused of vandalizing a Jewish synagogue before returning and breaking in again days later appeared before a judge on Tuesday.
Ezra Law, 33, is charged with felony criminal mischief. Prosecutors say she extensively vandalized the Congregation Emanu El on Sunset Boulevard — including breaking a window and spilling wine on a Torah Scroll.
She was initially charged with misdemeanor criminal mischief, but her charge was upgraded to a felony after the prosecution was able to prove that there was over $750 worth of damage to a place of worship.
ORIGINAL REPORT: Houston Synagogue on edge after woman is charged with breaking in twice, and making online threats
Law was originally scheduled in the 232nd court but instead appeared in front of an associate judge on Tuesday because the court filed a motion to recuse from the case. The exact reason why was unknown.
During the court appearance, the state filed two motions — one motion to deny bail based on previous violations of bond and a second motion for sufficient bail if the court felt that Law didn’t violate the previous bond amount.
Ultimately, the judge ruled that Law was entitled to bail. The state asked for a $50,000 bond, and the defense argued for a reinstatement of her previous personal bond.
After hearing both arguments, the judge granted a surety bond of $10,000 with strict conditions — including no contact with the congregation in person or on social media, random drug testing, no alcohol, and house arrest with GPS monitoring. House arrest has exceptions for things like court business and doctor’s appointments.
“We do appreciate that the court entered stricter conditions, and we do feel like the court took it seriously,” Assistant District Attorney Erica Winsor said.
Winsor said that during Tuesday’s hearing, it was determined that previous social media posts made by Law would not be admitted into the record. The state believes the posts were threatening in nature.
Many members of the community were present during the hearing and even tried to join a court Zoom session, prosecutors said.
“I think the court can see that the community is frightened by this case, by the actions that were taken here,” Winsor said. “We appreciate the support of the community at this time. We appreciate them wanting their voice to be heard. We believe that it is appropriate for the community to do that in the manner in which they did today.”
ABC13 obtained an internal email sent to congregation members. According to the email, Law broke into the Congregation Emanu El on Jan. 14 and damaged property inside, including a window.
She allegedly was not discovered for six hours because the security system was down for maintenance for at least a part of that time.
Law was arrested and charged in the first break-in as a misdemeanor. Prosecutors say while she was out on bond, she began to post several threats and rambling messages on Instagram, some tagging the synagogue specifically.
Prosecutors said she extensively vandalized the synagogue during the break-in. Documents say she caused between $750 and $2,500 worth of damage.
The state said while she was inside the synagogue, Law spilled wine on a Torah Scroll and a robe she was wearing, which belonged to the Rabbi.
On Jan. 20, when Law missed a court appearance, prosecutors convinced a judge to issue a warrant for her arrest.
Then, on Jan. 21, Law allegedly broke into the synagogue again. According to the internal email, Law accessed the building through a propped open door. She reportedly entered the chapel and a children’s Shabbat service. Employees immediately recognized her and called the authorities.
Law was re-arrested that same day on an upgraded charge and warrant from the first incident.
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