In the audience, her brothers and sister watched as Hess’ court-appointed attorney, Tony Naro, argued for bail to be set at $15,000, disputing the notion she was a flight risk, saying all her brothers and her fiance lived locally. He also argued that her family had no way to raise $50,000.
“These aren’t rich people,” Naro said, adding that such a high bail would essentially keep his client behind bars.
Also in the audience were at least two friends of Elise Bouchard who could be heard grumbling when Hess’ attorney tried to paint his client in a more favorable light.
Weaver sided with prosecutors and agreed to $50,000 cash or surety bail. Hess is due back in court Oct. 8 for a probable cause hearing. Due to the seriousness of the charges, Hess is likely to be indicted by a Rockingham County grand jury and face trial in superior court.
Outside the Seabrook courthouse, Hess’ sister, Cassandra Clifton, told almost a dozen reporters and cameramen that Hess wanted to be home with her family, but due to the high bail imposed by Weaver, Clifton was unsure if that would happen.
“We’re not doing well at all,” Clifton said.
Also addressing the contingent of reporters outside the courthouse, Hess’ older brother, Magnus Hess, said the family was completely traumatized and they mourned for the victims of Saturday’s accident.
The investigation into what prompted Hess, who was traveling southbound, to cross the center line of the Neil R. Underwood Bridge around 8:30 a.m. and strike bicyclists traveling north continues. Earlier this week, neither police Chief Jamie Sullivan or Rockingham County Attorney Jim Reams would comment on whether alcohol or texting was involved but said the crash appears to have been the result of driver inattention and excessive speed.
Reams wouldn’t comment on how fast Hess was traveling, other than to say that it was excessive and that witnesses were surprised by how fast she was driving. The county attorney said it was still unknown where Hess was going at the time of Saturday’s accident. As part of the investigation, police obtained a blood sample from Hess that is being examined for alcohol and other substances. They also confiscated her cellphone.