Church service lands defendant in hot water

2012-05-29T16:15:00Z 2012-07-23T11:11:31Z Church service lands defendant in hot waterBy Bob Kasarda bob.kasarda@nwi.com, (219) 548-4345 nwitimes.com

VALPARAISO | A 19-year-old Portage man accused of fleeing the scene of a fatal crash is accused of violating the terms of his pretrial supervision just a few days after a judge agreed to lower his bond so he could leave jail.

Reinaldo Figueroa III violated the terms of his release by leaving Porter County on May 13 to attend a church service in Tinley Park, Ill., according to Adult Probation Officer James Taylor.

Taylor said he learned of the potential violation from Figueroa's attorney, Jeffrey Golding.

While scheduling a July 24 hearing for evidence to be presented on the accusation, Porter Circuit Court Judge Mary Harper granted a request Tuesday by the defense to modify the conditions of the bond to allow Figueroa to continue attending the church services as long he complies with certain rules.

Figueroa is to be gone no longer than 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and must follow a designated route between his Portage home and the church.

"I think it's an absolute right to go to church," Harper said. "Going to church is good."

Golding told the judge Figueroa was not aware he needed the court's permission before attending the service.

"This young man meant no disrespect to the court," he said.

Deputy Prosecutor Andrew Bennett said he does not want to deny Figueroa the right to attend church, but would prefer he do so within Porter County.

It was revealed during a bond hearing earlier this month that following the April 2 crash in question, Figueroa's father drove his son to Hammond and the young man then went to Calumet City before returning to Portage, where he was picked up by police.

Figueroa is charged with striking and killing Frank Ivey, 22, of Valparaiso, while Ivey was riding his mo-ped on County Road 700 North near County Road 500 West in Portage Township.

Authorities accuse Figueroa of leaving Ivey in the road, where another driver called emergency officials after running him over.

Harper agreed earlier this month to lower his bond from $75,000 cash or surety to $5,000 cash.

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