Murder For Hire Suspect in Court

August 30, 2007 - Posted at 5:31 p.m. CDT

AUGUSTA-"This is America. Things should be done openly and with the public having the right to know. That was not done here, and my client suffers for it," said defense attorney, Ronald Davis Jr.

The first court appearance for Newport funeral home owner, Lawrence Tolerson ended Thursday about as quickly as it started.

"At your first appearance you should be heard before being issued a bond. In this instance, the bond was set prior to my client being here and we were unable to present any information that would lower that bond," said Davis.

Since his arrest Tolerson has been held at the Woodruff County Jail on a 500-thousand dollar bond, a number which his attorney thinks is a little excessive.

"Mr. Tolerson is from Jackson County. He is a businessman with property there, with family there. None of that was considered; the facts that you consider when establishing a bond. I've had people tried for murder that didn't have $500,000 bonds," said Davis.

But it's solicitation to commit capital murder that Tolerson is charged with.

In a probable cause affidavit, Tolerson is quoted telling a confidential informant that the mayor and police chief of Newport were trying to "destroy his business."

His statements were being recorded by the FBI, which went on to say that he would pay 10-thousand dollars per person.

His attorney says it's not true.

"Mr. Tolerson is going to plead not guilty. We are vigorously going to fight these charges. We are certain he is not guilty of what he has been charged with. There are some things that will come out that some people may not want to come out regarding this matter," said Davis.

Tolerson is set to appear in Circuit Court on September 14th at 9:00 a.m.

However, it's expected his attorney will file for a formal bond reduction before that time.

K8 News will stay with this story and bring you the latest as it becomes available.

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