Citing the heinousness of the allegations and the man’s ties to Alaska, state District Judge Ysmael Fonseca denied a request to lower the $4.5 million in bonds over charges that Richard Ford allegedly kidnapped and murdered his ex-wife.
Ford, a 41-year-old McAllen man, is accused of kidnapping 37-year-old Melissa Banda on Aug 6. Less than an hour later, investigators believe Ford lacerated the woman’s throat and dumped her body in rural Donna.
He is charged with capital murder and aggravated kidnapping and has remained jailed since his Aug. 9 arrest.
During a news conference after his arraignment, McAllen police chief Victor Rodriguez said detectives theorize that the investigation and prosecution of the man will show the kidnapping and murder were premeditated, including an effort by Ford to drive to South Padre Island after killing Banda to misdirect authorities.
Cameron County Park Rangers arrested Ford on South Padre Island after investigators used GPS in a vehicle Ford rented to track the man to the Island.
During the Wednesday videoconferencing hearing, Ford’s defense team, which includes Jaime Aleman and Hector Hernandez Jr., argued that their client does not have the financial means to be released on the $4.5 million in bonds.
Aleman told Fonseca, the judge, that Ford’s family might be able to come up with the necessary amount to meet a total of $100,000 in bonds on the charges.
Prosecutor Orlando Esquivel, however, urged Fonseca to deny any bond reduction because of the nature of the offense and because Ford was out on bond on allegations he assaulted Banda in February when police say he kidnapped and murdered the woman.
Esquivel also said that Ford had been previously working in Alaska, was familiar with the state and that if he failed to show up to a hearing and ran to Alaska, a fight over extradition could ensue.
Fonseca, in denying the bond reduction, cited the heinousness of the allegations and his concern over Ford’s ties to Alaska. The judge also said he was concerned that Ford had been on bond over the accusations that he assaulted Banda when she was then kidnapped and killed.
McAllen police have said they obtained surveillance video of Ford abducting Banda and the Hidalgo County Sheriff’s Office has said that GPS data puts Ford at the location where Banda’s body was found.
Ford, who appeared from the jail, confirmed Wednesday that he understood Fonseca had signed three warrants related to his arrest and said he felt the judge could be impartial in his ruling in the bond reduction hearing.