2011-04-28 / Front Page

Bondsman In Hann Case Asked To Forfeit $100K

Hearing held last Tuesday before Judge Angela Krom
By Chanin Rotz-Mountz
STAFF WRITER

Two Pennsylvania State Police officers, the county coroner and a former state police trooper who is now employed in the capacity of bondsman testified last week as part of a request by the commonwealth that bail posted on behalf of murderer Ricky Hann be forfeited.

Lead investigator Trooper Garry Ford Jr. of the Mc- Connellsburg substation kicked off the April 19 hearing for consideration of a petition for bail forfeiture filed by Fulton County District Attorney Travis Kendall. The testimony given by Ford as well as Cpl. William Baker, coroner Berley Souders and bail bondsman Paul Weachter is currently under review by Fulton County Court of Common Pleas Judge Angela Rosenberry Krom.

Ford testified he was initially contacted by murder victim Tina Marie Souders of Mc- Connellsburg on February 19. Ford said Souders alleged she had been kidnapped the previous day and held against her will for a prolonged period of time by former boyfriend Ricky Hann, also of McConnellsburg.

Ford said Hann was picked up on an arrest warrant and taken to Magisterial District Judge Carol Jean Johnson for arraignment on charges of kidnapping, burglary, terroristic threats, unlawful restraint, recklessly endangering another person and simple assault. Unable to post $100,000 straight bail, Hann was remanded to Franklin County Prison.

Late that evening, however, bail was posted through bondsman

Weachter. By noon February 20, Ford said, Hann had returned to Souders’ home along Cito Road and dragged her into the woods at gunpoint. The trooper stated he heard three gunshots from the woodline behind the mobile home and subsequently found the bodies of Souders and Hann. Ford went into further detail regarding the position of firearms found at the scene, spent shell casings and the location of fatal wounds suffered by both individuals.

Serving as an expert witness in the investigation of suicides involving firearms, Cpl. Baker also testified in cross examination led by defense attorney Clint Barkdoll that protectionfrom abuse (PFA) violations are typically carried on a separate complaint. Therefore, the PFA violation in the Souders-Hann case was not included in the charging documents filed on the kidnapping. After consulting with the district attorney, Ford may have followed up later with the PFA violation, Baker stated.

The court also heard from the crime corporal that criminal charges far outweigh and supercede a PFA violation. He concluded he had never filed a PFA jointly on the same paperwork as criminal charges.

County coroner Souders provided details regarding the autopsy findings following the deaths of Souders and Hann. Cause of death, Berley Souders stated, was listed as homicide for Souders and suicide, a selfinflicted gunshot wound, for Hann. Souders’ toxicology reports have not yet been received, while “nothing strange” was found in Hann’s system, said the coroner.

Weachter told the court he was not “watching” Ricky Hann on February 20 after bail was posted the prior evening. Weachter indicated in the event he had witnessed Souders being taken at gunpoint he would only have been able to call the police. “I couldn’t stop him,” said Weachter, who added one condition of posting bond is refraining from criminal acts that would trigger the revocation of bail.

“Forfeiture comes from failure to appear in court,” Weachter emphasized. He noted the commonwealth’s allegations that Hann failed to appear in court and engaged in criminal activity are correct.

Weachter said the only documentation available to him in posting bond is the list of criminal charges. An affidavit of probable cause is not provided even though it is a public document.

“Ricky probably had a copy of the paperwork, but I didn’t ask him to share it,” Weachter stated. His discretion in denying bail bondsman services is based on several criteria including community ties, family and work history.

“If the categories are 50 to 70 percent met, then I sign the bond regardless of the allegations,” Weachter stated.

In his closing statements, District Attorney Kendall pointed out bail can be forfeited for reasons besides failing to appear in court. Citing a Supreme Court case, Kendall also made reference to retaliation against witnesses and new criminal charges.

“Our primary witness was murdered. Our case is prejudiced ... . When Ricky Hann killed Tina Souders he was very much alive ... and under bail conditions,” stated Kendall. “ ... If this case does not qualify as a violation of bail bond, what case ever will?”

Attorney Barkdoll pointed out the commonwealth failed to provide testimony related to actual expenses incurred as a result of Hann’s actions. He said possibly a portion or percentage of the $100,000 bail could be forfeited based on cases expenditures.

“The cost to the commonwealth was the death of Tina Souders,” concluded Kendall.

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