GOSHEN — A Michigan man charged with neglect in a girl's death was granted a bond reduction after his attorney argued that the original $50,000 amount violated his rights.
Brandon Hobbs, 34, of Cassopolis, Michigan, faces two counts of neglect of a dependent leading to endangerment, a Level 6 felony, in connection with the death of a 10-year-old girl in June. Authorities believe the girl may have ingested meth at an Elkhart house where Hobbs was doing some contract work, which contributed to her death.
Erica Reschke, 30, also of Cassopolis, is believed to have brought the meth to the home. She is charged with two counts of neglect of a dependent resulting in death, a Level 1 felony, and a count of neglect of a dependent as a Level 6 felony.
Hobbs and Reschke were arrested in February following an investigation of the girl's death.
Circuit Court Judge Michael Christofeno decided to reduce Hobbs's bail amount to $30,000 Thursday, after his lawyer asked for an amount more in line with the $3,000 that's typical for a Level 6 felony. Attorney David Francisco said he was surprised by the $50,000 bond amount originally set by Superior Court 3 Judge Teresa Cataldo, when she signed the warrant for Hobbs's arrest.
Francisco said such a high bond violated Hobbs's 8th Amendment rights, and noted that the purpose of bond isn't to be punitive but to ensure that the defendant will appear in court. He observed that the $50,000 seemed to be set in reaction to the fact that a child died in this case.
He pointed out that while Hobbs didn't expect to face charges, he did cooperate with the investigation. He also didn't consider it an issue that Hobbs lives across the border in Michigan.
"He turned himself in when he learned that he was going to be charged," Francisco said. "This is not someone who intends to hide from the law, but he intends to fight for his rights and he intends to fight for his innocence."
Francisco also said Hobbs is self-employed and needs to be able to support himself and his surviving daughter. He asked that a bond of $3,000 to $6,000 be set and that it be payable with a 10 percent cash option.
Elkhart County Deputy Prosecutor Katelan Doyle argued for keeping the bond where it was. She said Hobbs has zero ties to Elkhart County but does have connections in Michigan, California and Texas, and that in addition to being a flight risk, she said he poses a danger to the community.
Christofeno told Francisco that, despite what he may think, he wasn't at all surprised that Cataldo set Hobbs's bond at $50,000. He said she has some discretion and it's what she decided was just.
He also noted that the court would have less control over what happens if Hobbs was allowed to return to Michigan. He said a $30,000 bond was warranted because of Hobbs's lack of ties to Indiana, and ordered that it be paid by corporate surety only.
"If the court decides to throws a party and Mr. Francisco doesn't show up, he knows what will happen," Christofeno remarked.
Reschke remains in jail on $150,000 bond. She and Hobbs are currently awaiting a May 6 jury trial.