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Judge reduces bond of Denny’s shooting suspect

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Posted: Friday, July 1, 2011 12:00 pm

By Philip Jankowski

Killeen Daily Herald

BELTON - A Fort Hood soldier accused of killing a fellow soldier in April following an argument at a Denny's restaurant had his bond reduced Thursday.

Judge Joe Carroll reduced Michael Fitzgerald Reese's bail from $1 million to $50,000, an amount Reese, 27, testified he could likely post.

Carroll imposed restrictions on Reese. He will not be allowed to leave Fort Hood, except when accompanied by an escort, and cannot handle weapons unless as a part of his military duties.

During the hearing, Reese took the stand in an orange jumpsuit issued by Bell County Jail. He has remained in custody since being arrested April 2.

Reese testified that a former commanding officer would be willing to take him in if released. Reese indicated that his father, a law enforcement officer in Florida, would likely be able to pay the $10,000 needed to post a $50,000 bond.

Assistant District Attorney Ed Vallejo questioned Reese about a demotion that occurred during his nine-year career with the Army. Reese acknowledged that he had played a role in a theft against another soldier that resulted in his demotion.

Vallejo noted during the argument phase that Reese had no real ties to the Killeen area. He told the court Reese may be a flight risk.

First Sgt. Terrence Stewart testified that Fort Hood officials could arrange for Reese to remain in the barracks and only leave post when escorted by another soldier.

Vallejo told the court that the shooting death of Justin Richardson had been witnessed by several individuals, who named Reese as the shooter. The shooting was also caught on surveillance video, Vallejo said.

Richardson died following an argument inside the South Fort Hood Street Denny's. Richardson, Reese and Reese's girlfriend had been out drinking at a nightclub prior to the shooting.

While at the Denny's, Reese's girlfriend began receiving angry phone calls from Reese. He arrived at the restaurant and began arguing with the woman, according to an arrest affidavit.

Richardson attempted to calm the situation down. He and another man escorted Reese outside of the restaurant. Richardson was shot twice in the back in the restaurant's parking lot, Vallejo told the court.

Contact Philip Jankowski at philipj@kdhnews.com or (254) 501-7553. Follow him on Twitter at KDHcrime.

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