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Bond remains

Judge refuses to lower bond for woman accused of abandoning her newborn boy

Judge refuses to lower bond for woman accused of abandoning her newborn boy

March 14, 2006|by PEPPER BALLARD

HAGERSTOWN

A Washington County Circuit Court judge ruled Monday that bond remain at $500,000 for Kelly Erin Ruck, a Hagerstown woman charged with attempted first-degree murder after she allegedly abandoned her newborn boy Sept. 17, 2005.

Ruck, 25, who has been held at the Washington County Detention Center since Sept. 26, has pleaded not criminally responsible to the charges against her, which include attempted first- and attempted second-degree murder, reckless endangerment and contributing to the condition of a child.

She is accused of placing her baby boy beneath a parked trailer after giving birth to him during the early morning hours of Sept. 17, charging documents state. The baby was found about 9:30 a.m. by neighbor James Sollenberger, who was drawn to the trailer by bloody rags he saw on the ground near it, according to charging documents. Sollenberger found the baby under a couple of pieces of wood and took him to safety, police said in charging documents.

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"It was apparent to Mr. Sollenberger that the wood had been deliberately moved and piled on top of the child," charging documents state.

Ruck, whose address was listed on charging documents as 809 Maryland Ave., appeared Monday in Washington County Circuit Court with her lawyer, Gordon A. Lynn, for a pretrial hearing. Lynn had filed a motion seeking to keep evidence, including Ruck's statements to police and items seized during the course of their investigation, from being submitted during her scheduled April 24 trial because of alleged Constitutional rights infringements, according to court documents.

Lynn withdrew his motion to suppress Monday. Instead, Lynn asked that Ruck's bond be reduced from $500,000 to $50,000, which Circuit Judge Frederick C. Wright III denied.

Wright said he did not reduce Ruck's bond because attempted first-degree murder carries a maximum life sentence and the purpose of setting a high bond is to "make certain someone charged with attempted first-degree murder is available for trial."

Lynn asked Wright to set a reasonable bond for Ruck so she may seek mental health treatment.

He said Ruck had a mental health evaluation, but no determination about whether she is criminally responsible for the offense has been made. A "not criminally responsible" determination is made by a jury or judge.

Lynn said Ruck was not deemed a danger to herself or others during the course of her mental health evaluation. Washington County State's Attorney Charles P. Strong Jr. argued that determination is not made until after a finding of "not criminally responsible."

He said that according to the evaluation, Ruck "did not lack the mental capacity" to understand the consequences of the crimes for which she's charged.

Lynn argued that District Judge Ralph H. France II, who ordered Ruck's $500,000 bond, did not take into consideration that Ruck is a lifelong Hagerstown resident and had no criminal record.

"Judge France only considered the nature of the charges and that was it," Lynn said.

Ruck has been ordered not to have contact with the baby, who is in the custody of the Department of Social Services.

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