One suspect in a Williamsburg rape and video voyeurism case got his bond reduced following a hearing Friday morning, another suspect was released from jail on bond, and two additional suspects had requests to lower their bonds denied.
On July 15, the Whitley County Grand Jury indicted Ronald Leas, 18, of Gray, Benjamin Brock, 19, of Williamsburg, and Ryan Davis and Michael Davis, both 18, of Emlyn, charging all four with first-degree rape and video voyeurism.
On May 18, the group allegedly engaged in sexual intercourse with a female while she was physically helpless, and used a camera phone to record a sexual act with the victim, according to their indictments.
Leas and Ryan Davis were later charged with tampering with a witness in regards to allegations that each separately went onto property where the victim worked despite a condition of their bonds being that they have no contact with the victim. So far neither has been indicted on that charge.
Both were already lodged in the Whitley County Detention Center in lieu of $100,000 cash bonds in the tampering case prior to Friday’s hearing.
All four appeared in Whitley Circuit Court Friday morning where Judge Dan Ballou held a bond reduction hearing for Leas, Ryan Davis and Michael Davis.
Brock had been free on a $10,000 cash bond until an Aug. 5 hearing when he tested positive for using marijuana, court officials noted.
At that time, Ballou held Brock in contempt of court but agreed to release him Friday morning on his previously posted $10,000 cash bond.
During Friday’s hearing, Ballou warned Brock that he was going to be on monitored conditional release, which includes random drug screenings.
“You’re going to have to walk the straight and narrow,” Ballou said. “At no time will you have any contact or communication with the victim or her family.”
Ballou also warned Brock Friday that prosecutors hadn’t made any motions to have his bond forfeited for violating his bond conditions, but that if another violation happens, then there probably would be such a motion to forfeit his bond and that motion would probably be granted.
Ballou declined to lower the $100,000 cash bonds for Leas or Ryan Davis after their hearings Friday.
Leas’ attorney, Caleb Pittman, noted that Leas is being held in lieu of a $100,000 cash bond in the tampering case, and that if this was the only reason he was being held in lieu of a $100,000 cash bond in the rape case then prosecutors needed to go ahead and indict his client in the tampering case.
Pittman added that his client had no criminal record and no juvenile court record.
Ballou responded that right now he wasn’t going to amend the bond.
Ryan Davis’ attorney, Jay Fleenor, noted that his client is classified as a “low moderate risk” on the bond assessment scale, and that according to state statute this means his client should be released from jail on an unsecured bond or on his own recognizance.
“We are just asking the court to follow the statutes,” Fleenor added. “He is assumed to be innocent. We should give him a bond he can make.”
Commonwealth’s Attorney Ronnie Bowling noted that the court isn’t bound by the pretrial assessment, and he believes that this statute is being misapplied.
“There is no body in my opinion, who is going to be a greater flight risk than someone facing 20 years to life,” Bowling countered.
Michael Davis had been free from jail on a surety bond from district court since June 10 when he appeared in Whitley Circuit Court on Aug. 5 for a hearing.
Many times court officials will leave the district court bond the same for someone after they have been indicted in circuit court, but during the Aug. 5 hearing Ballou noted that he had set $100,000 cash bonds for each defendant given the seriousness of the offense.
At the time, Michael Davis was taken into custody and lodged in the Whitley County Detention Center.
Michael Davis’ attorney, Chris Miniard, noted during Friday’s hearing that his client was under slightly different circumstances than the other three in that he hadn’t been arrested on any new charges while he was free on bond, and hadn’t tested positive for drugs during that time either.
Miniard added that Michael Davis had also showed up for all of his court appearances, and had a secured a job that had him working 48 hours per week
“He is a low, low risk assessment…The bond out of district court has worked,” Miniard argued. “He would be better off out working.”
Bowling noted that he has no problems with lowering the $100,000 cash bonds, but said he was opposed to a surety bond and wanted each defendant to post at least some kind of cash bond.
Ballou declined to set a surety bond in Michael Davis’ case, but he did agree to modify his bond to a $100,000 bond with 10 percent being required to be posted in cash. This is effectively a $10,000 cash bond, which is the same bond that Brock was released from jail on.
As of Tuesday afternoon, Michael Davis remained incarcerated in the Whitley County Detention Center.