Man leaves jail after bond lowered in fatal hit-and-run

2012-05-09T13:30:00Z 2012-05-29T14:26:25Z Man leaves jail after bond lowered in fatal hit-and-runBy Bob Kasarda, (219) 548-4345

VALPARAISO | The 19-year-old Portage man accused of fleeing the scene of a fatal crash about a month ago walked out of the Porter County Jail on Wednesday after a judge lowered his bond.

Reinaldo Figueroa III bonded out of jail about 4:30 p.m. Wednesday just hours after a circuit court judge lowered his bond from $75,000 cash or surety to $5,000 cash.

He was placed on pretrial release and required to comply with a 6 p.m. curfew, surrender his driver's license, remain in the county, submit to random drug/alcohol tests and home searches and refrain from having a firearm as terms of his release.

Other details of the case surfaced Wednesday during the hearing at which Porter Circuit Court Judge Mary Harper agreed to lower the bond.

Figueroa's father drove his son to Hammond after learning of the incident in April, according to county prosecutors.

Figueroa then went without his father 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, on April 2 while Ivey was riding his mo-ped on County Road 700 North near County Road 500 West in Portage Township.

Police accuse Figueroa of leaving Ivey in the road, where another driver called police after running him over.

Deputy Prosecutor Andrew Bennett questioned Figueroa's father, Reinaldo Figueroa Jr., about transporting his son out of the area following the crash, arguing the information is relevant considering the request to reduce bond.

After Reinaldo Figueroa Jr.'s attorney, Jeffrey Golding, objected to the line of questioning, the elder Figueroa opted not to answer by evoking his constitutional right not to incriminate himself.

The older Figueroa has not been charged, but his son faces two Class C felony counts of leaving the scene of an accident resulting in a death and reckless homicide.

It was further revealed Wednesday that Reinaldo Figueroa III was on probation for underage drinking and paraphernalia offenses at the time of the crash and had four referrals to juvenile court before he turned 18.

Golding also asked Harper if she could issue some sort of admonishment to discourage the public from further posting comments about the case on social media sites.

Harper quickly rejected the proposal as beyond the scope of her powers, but acknowledged the problems young people run into with those type of sites.

Ivey's family was upset with Harper's decision to reduce the bond to a lower amount.

Ruth Smyers, who took Ivey in as an adopted son after his mother died, said she doesn't believe it was just for the courts to alter the original bond amount.

"Where's the justice?" she said.

Smyers, 38, of Portage, also said she feels for Figueroa's family and understands that they are standing beside him.

"I know that they are hurting, too, and I understand that," she said. "We both lost a son that night. But my son will never be able to see his daughter again. My son will never work again. After all of this, their son will live and have a life. But mine won't because of one mistake. I don't think that's justice."

Times staff writer Lindsay Machak contributed to this report.

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