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Pike's bond reduction denied

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By Melissa Blankenship

 Laura Susanne Pike will have another two months to decide who will represent her at a trial currently scheduled for May 5, 2015.

Pike, 39 of Lawrenceburg, and her boyfriend Brett Smith, 36 of Fisherville, were both arrested in January of this year for incidents that allegedly happened while the couple lived in Eminence involving sexual acts with an 11-year-old girl and relative of Pike, according to the criminal complaint. Pike faces two counts of incest, two counts of sodomy and one count of sexual abuse, while Smith’s charges include one count of sodomy and three counts of sexual abuse.

 

Pike and Smith will be tried together as co-defendants.  Smith has retained an attorney to prepare his defense, but Pike has yet to decide whether to rely on a public defender or hire a private attorney. 

“Ms. Pike said she would be hiring private counsel,” said public defender Jessica Schulte. “Ms. Pike has been in jail for almost five months and has not retained private counsel and said she cannot decide. So at this point, the court needs to make a decision.”

Pike claimed that her family told her they would hire an attorney for her, but that hasn’t happened yet. If she decides to release her public defender and her family does not find an attorney for her, Pike faces a jury trial in which she would be forced to act as her own attorney.

“I’m trying to be faithful and trust my family, but I also don’t want to not have any representation,” Pike told Judge Karen Conrad during circuit court Thursday.

Conrad warned Pike that if Schulte was released as her attorney that she would not re-assign another public defender to represent her.

“What I’m telling you is that if your family doesn’t come up with the money to hire an attorney, and this case will be very expensive - these are serious charges – then you might be in position to represent yourself in trial,” Conrad told Pike. “You had a chance to have counsel, and these attorneys work very hard and I’m concerned about their workload and I won’t add to it.”

Conrad continued that although she could not tell Pike what to do, she felt comfortable recommending Schulte as a quality attorney who “fights very hard for her clients.”

“I am confidently telling you you’re in good hands. She’s excellent. I’ve seen her pick a jury. The court is telling you she is a very competent attorney,” Conrad said. “I’m trying to be objective about this, because I don’t know you or your family or your circumstances, but if I knew you I’d say she needs to stay with a public defender because you at least would have an attorney.”

Pike contended that she and Schulte “got off on the wrong foot” and because of the seriousness of the charges, she felt she needed an attorney who specializes in the kind of defense she needed to prepare.

“No offense to Ms. Schulte, but this is my life,” Pike said.

Judge Conrad agreed with her.

“You are facing the possibility of life in prison,” Conrad said. “She (Schulte) doesn’t want to see you defend yourself.”

On her client’s behalf, Schulte asked Conrad to agree to release Pike from custody. Pike’s co-defendant Smith was released from custody Feb. 11 of this year after he posted a property bond.

“She (Pike) has been incarcerated now for almost five months while her co-defender is out of custody,” Schulte said. “There seems to be no physical evidence and these allegations are based completely on statements by children. I think it’s appropriate that given the co-defendant is out of custody that she also be allowed to be out of custody.

“Ms. Pike is indigent and has no property, but he’s (Smith) out because he has money,” Schulte argued. “She represents no more risk level than he does.” Schulte added that Pike would agree to whatever conditions the court placed on her for her release.

“Anything. I’ll do anything,” Pike told Conrad.

Conrad countered that Smith was out of custody on the same amount of bond that Pike had been assessed, while Assistant Commonwealth Attorney Barry Moore argued that the bond had already been reduced once, that cases involving children often do not have physical evidence and that in light of the seriousness of the charges, the Commonwealth objected to any further reduction in Pike’s bond. 

“I understand that she feels like this cannot be fair, but his family had the resources. Her family has not been able to come up with the resources and these are really serious charges given the age of the child involved,” Conrad said. “I will not release you until your next pre-trial date. This will give you time to figure this out.”

Conrad denied Pike’s request to modify her bond amount of $100,000 ($10,000 full cash) or $25,000 property bond. Her next court appearance will be August 14 at which time the court expects Pike to decide on the matter of counsel.