BY JULIE MANGANIS
---- — SALEM — A Salem Superior Court judge yesterday reduced the bail of a Peabody man charged with running over and killing a Salem man outside a Gloucester apartment complex in May.
Judge John Lu, who examined both the records of defendant James Hayes and victim Michael Linscott and police reports, suggested, “This is an unusual case in which there are significant exculpatory facts.”
Hayes, 43, of Peabody, was arraigned earlier this month on a charge of motor vehicle homicide following an investigation by Gloucester and state police into the May 18 incident that killed Michael Linscott, 29, of Salem.
A judge in the Gloucester District Court set bail last week at $50,000.
Yesterday, Hayes appealed that amount, and after the hearing, Lu agreed to reduce it to $10,000 cash on the condition that Hayes also agree to wear a GPS monitoring bracelet while awaiting trial and remain confined to his home except for emergencies or court appearances.
He also continued the district court judge’s order barring Hayes from contact with any of the witnesses in the case except for his former girlfriend, with whom he has a child.
Prosecutor Meg Morrissey had urged Lu to maintain the bail at $50,000, pointing to Hayes’ lengthy record of driving violations and a history of violating court orders, including a restraining order obtained in the past by the mother of his child.
And she suggested that the evidence shows that Hayes accelerated sharply during the incident.
But Hayes’ attorney, Joann Hnat, argued yesterday that it’s still not entirely clear what happened during the confrontation that preceded Linscott’s death.
Hnat said Hayes had received a series of calls that night from his former girlfriend, who told him that he needed to watch their child while she drove Linscott home because Linscott was “out of control.”
As he made the hourlong drive from Haverhill, where he lived at the time, to Gloucester, Hayes received other calls from the woman, during which he could hear items being thrown.
At Pond View Apartments in Gloucester, Hayes made the decision to take their 3-year-old daughter home with him for the night.
As the child’s mother handed Hayes a diaper bag, Linscott showed up looking for a fight, Hnat said.
Hnat said that Hayes pulled away as Linscott was reaching into the car. She said her client feared that Linscott was pinned under the car, so he backed up, not realizing he was backing over the younger man.
Hnat called it simply “a terrible accident.”
Hnat also said Hayes is not a flight risk, pointing to his willingness to speak to police, his decision to remain in the area for months before the charges were filed and the fact that as soon as he learned that police had obtained a warrant, he turned himself in.
She suggested reducing Hayes’ bail to $5,000, an amount his sister can afford to post.
After reviewing the criminal records of both men, Lu agreed to reduce the bail to $10,000.
It was not immediately clear whether Hayes or his family will be able to come up with that amount.
Hayes is due back in Gloucester District Court for a pretrial hearing on Jan. 17, but a prosecutor said last week that the case is being reviewed by a superior court prosecutor, meaning Hayes could face indictment.
Courts reporter Julie Manganis can be reached at 978-338-2521, via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @SNJulieManganis.