RICHMOND, Va. -- Today Oliver Hill Judge Sharon Gregory Jacobs granted Michelle Knighten, 39, a $10,000 secured bond. Knighten is charged with one count of felony child neglect.
The charge stems from an arrest after police said Knighten's 3-year-old son was wandering alone on Broad Street multiple times.
During the nearly 15 minute hearing, the prosecutor told the judge Knighten should stay behind bars because the child was not being watched on several occasions and it was a "stroke of good luck" the child was not injured as he walked down Broad Street. But Knighten's lawyer, Nikki Clarke fired back and told the judge the child managed to get away partially because Knighten's suffers from insomnia.
Knighten's fiance and her future in-laws were in court during the hearing. Interestingly enough Knighten's lawyer also told the judge the little boy was also able to get out because he is large for his age. Her attorney went on to say Knighten took extra steps after the first few times the child was found wandering, by installing an extra deadbolt and other safety mechanisms. However the young boy was able to unlock the front door, as his mother slept.
The Commonwealth's Attorney pointed out Michelle's background with the courts to include four DWI charges. The prosecutor also said when police tried to awaken Michelle after one of the incidents, her speech was slurred and she was "not in her right mind."
In the end, Judge Gregory Jacobs said her decision boiled down to two things: Knighten was not considered a threat to the community and she didn't have a history of missing her court dates. Knighten must return to court in less than six weeks.
"The August date is going to be a preliminary hearing," Michelle's lawyer Nikki Clarke said. "It's a felony, so they have to prove probable cause at that point. If probable cause is proven it will go to the grand jury."
As a condition of her bond, Michelle Knighten can not live in the same home as her child. And it will be up to The Department of Child Services to determine when Knighten can visit her son.
Her trial date is scheduled for August 5.