WHEELING - Ohio County Circuit Judge David Sims on Thursday reduced Melody Fisher's bond from $1 million to $100,000, saying he believes she would be neither a flight risk nor a danger to the community if released from jail.
Fisher, 40, of Beech Bottom is accused of helping to plan the May 25 attempted robbery of the Elm Grove Pharmacy. During that crime, her alleged co-conspirator, Kevin Walnoha, was shot and killed by a store employee.
Ohio County Prosecutor Scott Smith objected to the bond reduction, saying Fisher fled the crime scene twice: first after she heard shots being fired inside the pharmacy and again after she returned and saw law enforcement officers on the scene. She abandoned Walnoha's car, Smith continued, and called her daughters for a ride back to Brooke County.
Photo by Tyler Reynard
Melody Fisher appears before Ohio County Circuit Judge David Sims on Thursday. Sims reduced her bond from $1 million to $100,000.
"The state contends she's a flight risk, and I think this bond is inadequate," Smith said. "I think she needs to remain in jail."
Fisher's attorney, Keith Hart, said it was beyond his client's means to hire an attorney, let alone post a $1 million bond. Smith responded by admitting if he thought Fisher was wealthier, he would push to increase the bond in an effort to keep her incarcerated.
"It's somewhat surprising to me," Hart said, "that Mr. Smith would make no bones about the fact that he views bond as a way to punish people, to keep them in jail while awaiting trial."
Sims ordered Fisher be placed on home confinement and submit to random drug and alcohol testing if she posts bond. Hart said she is expected to reside at her parents' home in Brooke County if released from jail.
"I don't think that she is a flight risk based upon what's before me now, and I think that there is probability that she'll appear in trial," Sims said. "I don't think, based on her prior criminal history, she's a danger to the community, although this offense is very serious and had some very serious consequences."
Fisher had not posted bond as of late Thursday and remained in the Northern Regional Jail, where she has been since West Virginia State Police arrested her on May 27 on charges of accessory before the fact to armed robbery and conspiracy to commit armed robbery.
The prosecution is expected to present the case to an Ohio County grand jury in September. If indicted, Fisher will be arraigned and receive a trial date during docket day proceedings in circuit court.
According to a police report, Walnoha entered the pharmacy, jumped behind the counter and demanded prescription pills from a store employee.
When Walnoha turned a gun on a second employee who emerged from a back office, the first pulled a gun from a store safe and fatally shot the would-be robber. Walnoha died at the scene.