Murder-For-Hire Suspect Back on the Streets

AUGUSTA, AR - The Newport funeral home owner and operator accused in a murder-for-hire scheme to have the Newport police chief and mayor killed bonded out of the Woodruff County Jail this morning.

A spokesman with the Woodruff Co. Sheriff's Dept. said Lawrence Tolerson had a bond reduction hearing this morning, where Circuit Judge L.T. Simes reduced the suspect's bond from $500,000 to $250,000.  Tolerson immediately made bond and was released.

Tolerson is charged with solicitation to commit capital murder, with his alleged targets being Mayor David Stewart and Police Chief Michael Scudder.  He allegedly paid a hitman in Woodruff County $20,000 to kill the pair.  According to a probable cause affidavit, Tolerson, who runs Tolerson & Sons Funeral Home, told a confidential informant that the mayor and police chief were trying to destroy his business.  He allegedly went on to say that he would pay $10,000 per person to have them killed.  Officials say the FBI recorded his statements.

Tolerson's attorney says he will plead 'not guilty' and will vigorously fight the charges.  Tolerson was arrested on August 28.