By JAYMES SONGTV bounty hunter and co-stars set free on bail in HawaiiSat Sep 16, 2006 17:35
TV bounty hunter and co-stars set free on bail in Hawaii
By JAYMES SONG, - Associated Press Writer
Published 1:24 am PDT Saturday, September 16, 2006
TV reality star Duane "Dog" Chapman and two co-stars accused of illegal detention and conspiracy in the bounty hunters' capture three years ago of a cosmetics company heir in Mexico posted bail and were released Friday.
With dozens of fans waving signs reading "Release the Hounds" and "In Dog We Trust" outside the court, Chapman was released on $300,000 bail after spending the night in a federal detention center.
"The federal marshals treated us with great respect," Chapman said. "But let me tell you, you never want to go to a federal prison, because it's terrible."
His co-stars on the popular A&E show "Dog The Bounty Hunter" were freed on $100,000 bail each.
Chapman, his son, Leland Chapman, and associate Timothy Chapman, no relation, were arrested Thursday on charges stemming from the capture of Max Factor heir Andrew Luster on June 18, 2003, in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, officials said.
Chapman's capture of Luster, who had fled the country while on trial on charges he raped three women, catapulted the 53-year-old bounty hunter to fame and led to the reality series on A&E. Luster is now serving a 124-year prison term.
Bounty hunting is considered a crime in Mexico, and charges have been pending against the three since local police in Mexico arrested them shortly after they roped in Luster. They posted bail but never returned for their court hearing in July 2003, officials said.
Chapman made the sign of the cross and mouthed, "I love you," to his wife who was sitting in the front row of the crowded courtroom.
The men are now required to wear electronic monitoring devices until they return to court for extradition hearings to face trial in Mexico.
Defense attorney Brook Hart, who successfully argued during the 1-hour, 10-minute hearing that his clients have no reason to be locked up, called the devices "overkill" but did not object to their use.
"It's ironic that the bounty hunter would go around with a bracelet while arresting people. But so be it," he said.
Hart asked to the judge to consider that he took Luster, an American, "off the streets and did a major service to the world."
U.S. Magistrate Barry Kurren said "it was clear" the men did not pose a flight risks because of their strong family ties, significant financial interests in Hawaii and because they would have a hard time hiding.
"They are well-known public figures that could not go into hiding," Kurren said. "Just look at them."
He said the men also do not pose any threat to the community, while ordering them to home detention. But they are allowed to leave home for work, which would include bounty hunting and filming their reality TV show.
"Thank you judge, I agree with you," said Chapman, who stood before the judge, chained at the ankles.
Chapman and his tattooed crew were ordered to surrender their passports, to stay in Hawaii and not possess any firearms.
"I don't believe in guns," Chapman quickly responded.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Ronald Johnson argued the bounty hunters should be treated like any other Americans, despite their celebrity status, and not be released.
He also questioned whether the court would be liable if the bounty hunters made any false arrests, or got involved in a car accident or shooting while on release.
Reporters and fans packed the courtroom, and several supporters held signs outside the federal courthouse saying, "Let go our hero." A&E TV crews were also filming the events for a future episode of Chapman's show.
"Our whole family likes Dog. He captures people who do wrong. Plus my older sister wants to marry Leland," said 11-year-old Shannon McNamara, of Los Angeles, who was wearing a Bounty Hunter shirt.
Her younger sister, 10-year-old Katherine, waved the "In Dog We Trust" sign.
Chapman's son Leland, 29, and Timothy Chapman, 41, assist him in exploits chronicled for the TV show filmed in Hawaii and other states. The show focuses on Chapman's family as much as the bounty hunting, which generally involves tracking down bail jumpers, often creating emotional scenes with repentant captives.
Officials at the office of the attorney general of the state of Jalisco, where Puerto Vallarta is located, confirmed that Chapman is wanted in Mexico on kidnapping charges, but said they did not want to comment further on the case so as not to jeopardize the extradition process.
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