Bail lowered for suspect in alleged murder plot

Updated: October 25, 2005, 8:27 AM ET
Associated Press

MIDDLETOWN, Conn. -- A Superior Court judge has reduced the bail of a psychologist who is accused of conspiring to kill the stepfather of Seattle SuperSonics basketball star Ray Allen.

Ernest C. Garlington, 37, had been held on $1.7 million bond. It was reduced to $750,000, which his lawyer said Garlington will be able to post.

Garlington and Terrence Battle, 31, of Waterbury are charged with conspiring with Robbie Santos, who fired a gun at psychologist Derek Hopson outside a mental health clinic in Middletown two years ago. The gun jammed and Hopson was not injured. Hopson was also attacked with a golf club in August 2002.

Flora Allen-Hopson, Allen's mother, said she is considering moving her family from the state because of the judge's decision.

"I will not live my life in fear," Allen-Hopson told The Hartford Courant. "I always felt safe in Connecticut, it's been my home, but there comes a time when a home and all this stuff doesn't matter.

"I think the justice system needs to get a little tougher on things. This is our life, and I am hurt by this ruling."

Santos is serving an 18-year prison term for firing a shot from a .25-caliber pistol at Hopson on May 21, 2003, outside the mental health clinic where Hopson worked. Santos ran off when his gun jammed, according to testimony at his trial.

Prosecutors said Santos was offered $8,000 to kill Hopson.

Garlington and Battle also are accused in an assault on Hopson with a golf club in the same parking lot on Aug. 12, 2002.

Hopson was once married to Garlington's wife and is now married to Flora Allen-Hopson, the mother of Allen.

Garlington is director of psychological services at New Opportunities Inc., a nonprofit corporation that administers social service programs for low-income families in Waterbury and nearby communities.

In court Monday, Garlington's lawyer, William F. Dow III, submitted several letters of reference. Former Hartford Mayor Carrie Saxon Perry called Garlington an "exemplary model and mentor." Kevin Coyle, assistant football coach of the Cincinnati Bengals, said he met Garlington while coaching him at the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Mass., and found him "a man of tremendous character and integrity."

Police documents will remain sealed until Thursday.

Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press