2011-06-02 / Local & State

Former Husband Of Murder Victim Discusses Bail Forfeiture

By Chanin Rotz-Mountz

Having received notice that a local bail bondsman must forfeit the bail posted in the hours prior to the murder of Tina Souders by her estranged boyfriend, the exhusband of the murder victim appeared before the Fulton County commissioners this week to hear the county’s plans for spending the $100,000.

Todd Souders, father of Tina Souders’ two teenage sons, told commissioners Bonnie Mellott Keefer, Craig Cutchall and David Hoover II on Tuesday that the death of Tina was one of the toughest things he has ever dealt with.

Tina Souders, 39, was murdered on February 20 behind her 5895 Cito Road home by former boyfriend Ricky Hann. The 51- year-old McConnellsburg man was taken into custody only the day before after he allegedly held the woman against her will for a 24-hour time frame. Charges filed by Pennsylvania State Police against Hann included one count each of kidnapping, burglary, terroristic threats, unlawful restraint, recklessly endangering another person and simple assault.

Unable to post the $100,000 bail as set by Magisterial District Judge Carol Jean Johnson, Hann was remanded to the Franklin County Prison. At approximately 11 p.m. on February 19, Hann was able to post bail with help from a friend through bail bondsman Paul Weachter. Hann returned to Souders’ home the following day, dragged her into the woods behind the residence and fired three shots that ended her life as well as his.

As Hann committed a crime following his release from prison and committed suicide, preventing future court appearances, a court ruling by Judge Angela Krom of the Fulton County Court of Common Pleas stipulates Weachter must relinquish the money to the county.

Commissioner Keefer told Todd Souders that the county, for the time being, has refrained from making a decision on how the bail money will be spent. Keefer stated they are certain Weachter, through his attorney, Clint Barkdoll, will appeal the ruling to a higher court. In addition, the commissioners are awaiting a response from county solicitor Stanley Kerlin to confirm how the money can and cannot be spent in accordance with regulations.

Keefer and Hoover noted the commissioners have already received a request from the county Probation Department to put an additional officer on the street. Furthermore, Women In Need ( WIN) representative Eric Williams publicly issued a request last Tuesday to have the bail money donated to its organization for the purpose of constructing a domestic violence shelter in the Chambersburg area to service victims in Franklin and Fulton counties. Williams indicated that a section of the new facility could be named in memory of Tina Souders.

When asked by Hoover how he would like to see the money spent, Todd Souders responded naming a portion of the proposed WIN shelter would be a nice way to honor her memory. He went on to say he would like to see a push for stronger laws involving protectionfrom abuse orders.

“I’ve been trying to put myself in a position to see this from every side... . I don’t want anyone to have to go through what I did,” stated Souders. “I don’t want her death to be in vain.”

In other matters on Tuesday, the commissioners met with victim witness coordinator Carolyn Kerlin, who reported the commonwealth has reduced funding by 46 percent for the Victims of Juvenile Offenders (VOJO) portion of the victim witness program. The amount will accordingly drop from $10,000 to $5,425.

Kerlin also elaborated that Rights and Services Act grant monies have been flat funded for the last four years, but funding is currently secure as it originates from fees and costs that are assessed on defendants.

Mary K. Seville, planning and mapping director, presented the commissioners with a solid waste planning ordinance and a recycling resolution for adoption. The ordinance on solid waste provides for the comprehensive management, which includes the processing, disposal and recycling, of solid waste generated or collected within Fulton County. Meanwhile, the recycling resolution asks that Governor Tom Corbett and the state General Assembly prolong the life of existing landfills by reducing the amount of solid waste, reusing solid waste and recycling solid waste.

The resolution further requests that legislation be enacted giving tax credits to bottling companies that use glass containers or have a deposit on beverage containers; a tax credit be provided to all licensed garbage haulers who offer curbside collection of recyclables; and continue financial support of counties for the purpose of recycling.

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