Wayne County Outlook

Posted August 15, 2012 at 2:16 pm

Former Wayne County Assistant Attorney Rod Tejeda has been released on bond after it was lowered during a hearing in Wayne Circuit Court on Wednesday, August 1. Tejeda is charged with murder in connection with the April death of Jerus Helen Neal.

Neal died from injuries sustained in a two-vehicle collision that occurred on Main Street near the intersection with Young Street on April 19. Officials stated that Tejeda’s car struck Neal’s vehicle in the driver’s side as she was turning from Young Street onto Main Street. She was pronounced dead a short time later at Wayne County Hospital.

Tejeda appeared in court last week with his attorneys, Tom Carroll and Lance Turner, and entered a not guilty plea during arraignment. Because of Tejeda’s involvement in the local court system, a special judge and a special prosecutor have been assigned to the case.

Commonwealth’s Attorney Allen Trimble will serve as prosecutor and James L. Bowling, Jr. will serve as the judge. Both were in court Wednesday for the arraignment and a bond hearing.

Tejeda’s attorney had filed a motion requesting a reduction in bond from the $250,000 cash that was initially set by Circuit Judge Vernon Miniard, Jr. before he recused himself from the case.

Trimble opposed the reduction in bond, citing the circumstances of the accident that resulted in Neal’s death. The circumstances he pointed out during the hearing included the speed that Tejeda was driving, which he said was in excess of 60 miles per hour at the time of the crash, as well as his blood alcohol level. Trimble also stated in court that the blood alcohol level was above the legal limit several hours after the collision.

Trimble also cited the fact that Tejeda disappeared from the Wayne County Hospital for a period of time on the day of the accident. He had been taken to the hospital for a blood test shortly after the crash.

“That causes some concern for the Commonwealth,” stated Trimble.

Turner spoke on behalf of Tejeda, noting that his client is not a flight risk. He stated that nearly three months passed from the time of the accident until Tejeda was indicted, yet he remained in Wayne County. He also pointed out that Tejeda turned himself in to authorities after the indictment was returned.

Bowling noted that Tejeda had no significant criminal history. He agreed to reduce the bond to $175,000 property and set several conditions for Tejeda. The defendant was ordered to surrender his passport and driver’s license. He will be subject to MCR monitoring and is not allowed to leave the county except for doctor’s appointments.

Tejeda will also be subject to random drug and alcohol tests.

Bowling set February 13, 2012 as the trial date for the case. Three days have been set aside for the trial.

A pre-trial conference will be held on December 3 at 9 a.m.