REDWOOD CITY -- A judge tripled the bail Monday for a man suspected of slaying East Palo Alto activist David Lewis after prosecutors raised concerns he might try to flee if released.
Gregory Elarms, 60, of Pittsburg, remained behind bars after San Mateo County Superior Court Judge John Grandsaert bumped his bail to $500,000, District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe said.
Until two weeks ago Elarms was being held without bail for Lewis' 2010 murder in a parking lot at Hillsdale Shopping Center in San Mateo. However, after a judge dismissed the murder charge, saying police had illegally gotten a confession from Elarms, his bail was set at $150,000 for additional charges.
Wagstaffe said his office argued Elarms is aware prosecutors will appeal the dismissal and thus he has "every reason" to take off if released. Defense attorney Jonathan McDougall didn't immediately respond to an email seeking comment.
The heftier bail increases the chance Elarms will remain behind bars during the appeal, which is expected to take 12-18 months. Elarms has remained in custody due to charges stemming from the three occasions where jail guards reportedly caught him with a toothbrush, spork and pencils fashioned into weapons.
Lewis, who co-founded revolutionary drug treatment center Free at Last, was fatally shot in the abdomen as he walked from his car at the Hillsdale mall. His killing remained unsolved for six months, until Elarms called police and offered information about the case. Police say Elarms later confessed to the killing, which had no clear motive.
Contact Joshua Melvin at 650-348-4335. Follow him at Twitter.com/melvinreport.