Bond is $3 million in murder for hire case

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By Rich Bauer, Managing Editor

Bond has been set at $3 million for a Farina man accused of trying to having his wife killed.
Judge James Roberts set bond for Mark G. Fulk during a hearing in Fayette County Circuit Court last Wednesday afternoon.
Also on Wednesday, Fulk, through his attorney Lou Viverito, pleaded not guilty to the charge of solicitation of murder for hire, a Class X felony.
Fulk was arrested on April 5, one day after local authorities were told by Fulk’s wife that he had approached a man about killing her, offering payment of the couple’s home, a motorcycle, cash and Fulk’s auto business.
In setting bond, Roberts ruled that if Fulk posts bail, he would be allowed to live with his mother in Effingham County, and ordered that Fulk not have any contact with his wife or children, and that he could not visit his business, which is co-owned by his wife.
The judge also ordered that Fulk not make any mention of the alleged crime on Facebook or other social media.
He also stipulated that if Fulk is released, it would be under electronic home confinement, with Fulk paying all associated fees. Roberts also stipulated that there be no guns in the home of Fulk’s mother if he lives there, and that he would have to surrender a Firearm Owner’s Identification Card, if he has one.
Also, the judge stipulated that Roberts would have to surrender a passport, if he has one.
During the bond hearing, Assistant State’s Attorney Amanda Ade-Harlow asked Roberts to set bond for Fulk at $5 million.
Ade-Harlow asked for a high bond amount to help ensure that Fulk remained in jail while he awaits trial.
She noted the testimony of Illinois State Police investigator Brandon Grzechowiak at Fulk’s preliminary hearing earlier this month. Grzechowiak testified about his meetings with Fulk’s wife and the man that Fulk allegedly tried to hire for murder.
Ade-Harlow also mentioned testimony from that hearing related to an accident on Interstate 57 in which a vehicle driven by Fulk’s wife was hit by the man that Fulk had allegedly tried to hire for the killing.
Ade-Harlow said that if Fulk is released from jail prior to trial, “the physical safety (of Fulk’s wife) … could be compromised.”
There are, she said, “fears that (Fulk) would follow through with his initial plan, or hire someone” to murder his wife,” Ade-Harlow said.
Just the fact that Fulk is charged with arranging to have his wife killed “causes great concern to the victim and her family and children,” she said. “Our concern is that there are no safeguards that can be placed on the defendant.
“This is a situation whereby with a simple request, a telephone call, someone stops by his mom’s house,” Fulk can again make arrangements to have his wife murdered, Ade-Harlow said.
“This is a situation of life or death,” she said.
In arguing for a lower bond, Viverito argued that by law, the prosecution must show that danger to an alleged victim “must be proved … independent of the charge” on which a defendant is held.
Viverito also argued that under cross examination during the preliminary hearing, Grzechowiak was unable to state a particular date on which Fulk arranged to have his wife killed. “He gave a time estimate,” Viverito said.
The man with whom Fulk allegedly arranged to have his wife killed, Viverito said, “was apparently unable to tell the investigating officer when the agreement was reached.”
In trying to make his case for a lower bond amount, Viverito called several witnesses, including Fulk’s mother, a childhood friend of Fulk and Fulk himself.
Justin Reardon, an Effingham County sheriff’s deputy, testified that he “grew up with” Fulk and has known him for 20 years.
Reardon testified that he believed that if Fulk were released on strict home confinement terms, he would comply with them.
Under cross-examination by Ade-Harlow, Reardon conceded that he has been around Fulk “probably five times” in the past 10 years.
Fulk’s mother, Kathy Koester, testified that he could live with her, and that there would always be a family member present during the time that Fulk lived there.
“He has never been in trouble before,” Koester said. “He is a very good dad, a very good person.
“He is not going to jeopardize a chance to see his children again,” she said, talking about her belief that her son would not violate the terms of his bail.
Fulk testified about his ability to raise $500,000, the amount of bail that he would have to post in order to be released prior to jail.
He said that he received a settlement of about $400,000 from an injury while working for a railroad company, and that he has about $185,000 of that left, all of which is invested for his retirement and children’s college education.
In ruling on the bond issue, Roberts cited state statute in commenting on “excessive bail for the sole purpose of restraining (a defendant) in custody.
“Five-million dollar bond would effectively be a denial of bond,” Roberts said, noting that bond of that amount “would be oppressive.”