A request to reduce bond was denied in Circuit Court for Whitney Chipps, a Harrison County woman accused of a felony DUI in Lewis County, resulting in the death of local resident Erin Marshall-Heater last December.
Chipps appeared in Circuit Court on March 3 before Judge Jacob Reger for the reduction in bond hearing. Her court appointed defense attorney James Hawkins called one witness, Jerry White.
White, Chipps’s fiance, testified that he and Chipps have been together for three years and share a 14-month-old child.
Prosecuting Attorney Christina Flanagan said Chipps has been charged with felony child neglect and DUI in Harrison County, and those charges are still pending.
White has been the primary caregiver for the child since Chipps was arrested in December, 2016.
White said if the court reduced her bond and placed Chipps on home confinement, he is capable of doing everything outside the home, such as shopping, and Chipps would not have to leave for anything, unless it’s an emergency.
White testified he would let the court know if Chipps left the residence if she were placed on home confinement, and pledged there would be no alcohol or firearms in the residence.
He added that his mother lives in the home, as well, and would be there to help if needed.
Hawkins said that the current bail amount set by Roger Clem in Lewis County Magistrate Court, $100,000 cash, is essentially no bail at all. He said he does not make light of the allegations against his client, but said she has no convictions at this time.
Hawkins requested home confinement with a reduction or modification to bail, which could include a Systems and Alcohol Monitoring Systems (SCRAM) bracelet.
A SCRAM bracelet tests and reports alcohol consumption based on transdermal testing.
Flanagan argued that the state opposes any motion to modify bond, due to the nature of the charges.
“This has been a hardship for the victim’s family,” Flanagan said.
She said the court needs to consider the safety of the community.
Reger said the allegations are “very serious. The other charges concern me very much.”
He also cited the fact that all three charges, the two in Harrison County and the one in Lewis County, all occurred close together.
The DUI charge happened in October, 2016, the child neglect charge in May, 2016, and the felony DUI resulting in death in December, 2016.
Reger said the allegations against Chipps in both counties are very serious and create a hardship on everyone involved. Reger concluded by saying that he denies the motion at this time based on other allegations and for the safety of the community.