Monday, October 22, 2007

Bounty Hunters Released

Two would-be bounty hunters roughed up by neighbors and arrested after trying to take a Ferndale woman to court against her will were released from jail Wednesday because they acted within the letter of the law, police said.

Christopher Hight, 52, of Bremen, Ga., was arraigned on a carrying a concealed weapons charge in the incident, but he and his 53-year-old brother from Blountville, Tenn., were both released. He must return for an Oct. 25 preliminary exam on the weapons charge.

Both men were arrested Tuesday after one lured the 48-year-old woman out of her Albany Street home on the pretext of having a cup of coffee and the other jumped from nearby bushes.

Police were called shortly after midnight on a report of the pair dragging the woman to their pickup truck. Neighbors armed with a golf club and baseball bat stopped them from placing her in the vehicle. Hight suffered a head wound in the resulting fracas.

"Everyone did exactly what they were supposed to do," said Lt. William J. Wilson. "The neighbors came to her defense. Someone called police. The police responded quickly and took them into custody.

"Only problem is, the two men were completely within their legal rights in grabbing her."

Inside the truck, police found two loaded .22-caliber handguns, duct tape and plastic "flex cuffs," which they planned to use to tie the woman up for the ride back to Georgia. She was scheduled to appear today in court on a drunken driving and drug possession charge, Wilson said.

This year, Hight, who is related to the woman's cousin, had put up $10,000 bond through a bail bondsman for her to be released and was concerned she did not plan to show up for court, forfeiting bond.

Under Michigan law, in all criminal cases in which people have provided bail and want to be relieved from the responsibility, they can -- with or without police assistance -- arrest or detain the accused and deliver him or her to any jail or to the sheriff of any county. "It's an outdated law, but it's on the books," said Wilson. "They decided to do it all themselves, which is also their right. But it could have had a tragic result."

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