Saturday, February 1, 2003

Bond reduced; protests follow



By Sheila McLaughlin
The Cincinnati Enquirer

[photo]
Alvin Tucker




LEBANON - Advocates for domestic violence victims expressed outrage Friday when a Warren County judge reduced the bond for a Mason man accused in the Christmas Eve stabbing and beating of his ex-wife.

Judge Neal Bronson gave Alvin Tucker a $250,000 break, but the remaining bond - at $500,000 - is likely enough to keep the unemployed financial executive from getting out of jail, his court-appointed attorney said.

"What message does this send to the community to other perpetrators and about the seriousness of the offense?" asked Nancy Neylon, executive director of the Ohio Domestic Violence Network, who was speaking at a seminar for advocates from Warren, Hamilton and other counties.

She was among a group of about 30 people - advocates and friends and relatives of victim Virginia Gilbert - who tried to attend the hearing in Warren County Common Pleas Court to draw attention to domestic violence and to discourage the judge from lowering the bond.

The group remained in the courtroom while Bronson held the brief hearing in his chambers behind closed doors.

Assistant prosecutors Rachel Hutzel and Carolyn Duvelius, who objected to the bond reduction, later explained the judge's decision to the crowd, who filled every seat in the courtroom gallery. The news prompted one woman to suggest that the group work to defeat Bronson when he comes up for re-election.

Prosecutors said Bronson offered no explanation for his decision in chambers. He had little to say later.

"The only thing I can say is that (bail) is to assure appearance," Bronson told a reporter.

Tucker, 50, has pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity to charges of attempted murder, felonious assault, kidnapping and aggravated robbery in the attack on Gilbert.

Police said it occurred in front of the couple's 5- and 7-year-old daughters at Tucker's home on Birchwood Farms Drive. Police said Gilbert was stabbed at least 26 times with an awl and hit in the head up to six times with a metal bar from a free weight.

The older daughter escaped from the house during the attack and went to a neighbor for help. Tucker was arrested two days later in Gilbert's stolen car, asleep at a Fayette County rest area after calling police twice saying he wanted to turn himself in.

Gilbert, who did not attend the hearing Friday, is recovering from her injuries at an undisclosed location where her children have joined her.

She has expressed fear that Tucker would kill her if he is released from jail, but she eventually hopes to help others affected by domestic violence, said Kim Smith, an advocate with the Warren County Abuse, Rape & Crisis Shelter who is helping Gilbert.

E-mail smclaughlin@enquirer.com




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