Cheatham hires private counsel; bond reduced despite concerns

bradford

Brandon S. Cheatham, 23, of Bradford, made an appearance Friday in Stark County Circuit Court with his recently hired attorney Martin DeWulf, of Kewanee.
Cheatham is accused of a Class 4 felony aggravated fleeing/attempting to elude a peace officer, driving on a suspended license, DUI with a blood alcohol test of 0.24, disobeying a stop sign, and speeding 80 m.p.h. in a 55 m.p.h. zone and 100 m.p.h. in a 55 m.p.h.zone.

 DeWulf filed a motion for bond reduction in the cases Cheatham is facing.  Stark County Circuit Judge Thomas A. Keith weighed arguments from both the defense and prosecution before granting a reduction.
Keith expressed grave reservations about reducing Cheatham’s bond and reiterated his statement of last week.  Keith stated, “I think he is a risk to the public – a risk to the community is my reservation and concern.”
DeWulf argued that Cheatham’s trouble with the law “stems from alcohol – it’s a drinking problem.”  Keith pointed out, “If he isn’t going to respect probation (on a 2012 case), how can I assume he will obey being out on bond?”
Stark’s State’s Attorney James D. Owens stressed, “Mr. Cheatham posed a threat to his own safety and the public’s.  If bail is reduced, the conditions should be that he not be able to drive or consume alcohol.”
Owens suggested, “One way to monitor Mr. Cheatham, but won’t insure he won’t be drinking is with electronic monitoring.”
Keith set conditions to Cheatham’s bond reduction that he meet all TASC probation testing by any law enforcement agency for alcohol randomly performed and that Cheatham pay for the electronic monitoring device’s use that he will be required to wear.
In addition, Cheatham is restricted from driving and can only be at home or traveling to and from work in Bradford.  He was due to be released Tuesday, December 16 with a $20,000 personal recognizance bond.
A “PR” bond requires no cash be applied or posted as a condition for release.  In this instance it would have been $2,000 or 10% of the total bond.
Cheatham’s next court date is set for January 9, 2015 for a preliminary hearing and a March 2 date for a jury trial.
Speaking directly to Cheatham, Judge Keith said, “I hope you have enough empathy to understand my concern (about releasing him on bail).”
Keith earlier addressed that concern, “I don’t want to bond out Mr. Cheatham and have someone come in here because…of an accident.”

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