WILKES-BARRE – Weighing an inmate's liberty rights against community safety, Luzerne County Judge William Amesbury on Thursday denied modifying the bail for Walter Raven, who is facing charges in a double fatal hit-and-run crash.
It was Raven's second attempt to have his $150,000 straight bail changed since his arrest on Sept. 3.
Luzerne County detectives and Pittston Township police allege Raven, 50, turned his Buick into the path of a motorcycle operated by Donnie Pizano, 38, on state Route 315 on Sept. 2. Pizano and a passenger on the motorcycle, Robin Walsh, 39, both of Plains Township, were killed in the crash.
Raven, of Jenkins Township, sped away and was spotted by Jenkins Township police as he and friend were washing the Buick the next day, according to the criminal complaint.
Investigators charged Raven with two counts of accidents involving death, and one count each of tampering with evidence, driving with a suspended license, careless driving causing unintentional death and four traffic citations.
Through his attorney, Anthony Moses, Raven contended the bail is excessive and has sought to have it lowered.
In addressing the request, Amesbury said he compared Raven's liberty rights to community safety, finding that Raven continues to be a danger to the public. Arrest records say Raven is not eligible to obtain a driver's license until March 2017. His license has been suspended since July 2008 due to repeated DUI convictions.
This problem goes well beyond the use of alcohol, Amesbury said, noting Raven has a history of drug use, has been jailed six times and has never held stable employment. You cannot control your behavior.
I really didn't do anything to break the law, Raven said, appearing at the hearing via video conference from the county prison.
Amesbury said he is not closing the door on Raven's attempt to have his bail modified. Until Raven can demonstrate a willingness to be sober, Amesbury said he had no other option but to keep him in jail.
Raven is scheduled to be formally arraigned on the charges on Nov. 30.