General Sessions Court Judge David Bales on Friday raised the bond for five people charged with torturing a 24-year-old man in East Lake, calling them "mean" and strung out on meth.
He raised the bond the most for Bennett Laymon, who was allowed to leave the scene because police at first thought he was not involved, but who was caught this week. Shane Keller testified that it was Laymon who put a knife in his face and then put scars on his neck and cheek after the knife was heated. Laymon, 28, of East Ridge, was already under $200,000 bond.
Bond was also increased for Eric Clifton Slaughter, 25, Ginger Lee Davis, 48, Barbara Diane Thomas, 53, and Dosher Felts, 22. All remain incarcerated.
Keller, 24, at first told police he was walking by a house at 3300 East 36th St. when two men grabbed him and forced him inside. He later said he had gone to the house to sell $150 in meth. He said he had made up the first story to protect the female who drove him to the house.
Keller said he had earlier met Ms. Davis and it was her small residence up on a hill. He said when he got inside that Eric Slaughter and Laymon came at him and he was forced into a bedroom. He said all his clothes were taken off and his boxer shorts cut up. He said his hands and feet were bound with a sheet that was torn, and he was blindfolded.
He said Laymon then burned him with the knife and also tried to cut off two of his fingers. He said he was also jabbed in the back with the knife.
Keller said the two women egged Laymon on with one saying, "Cut his eyelid." He said one of the women said she was getting revenge because she once gave him money for ice and he did not bring the ice. He claimed he did give her the bag of ice.
He said the group went through his cellphone and found his sister's phone number. She was called and told to bring them $300 for his ransom. He said he got on the phone and asked her to bring the money, saying they had talked about "taking me to Georgia and finishing me off."
But the sister, Summer Neighbors, told them she did not have any money and that she was calling the police. After that, he said, they let him put his clothes back on.
The first officers on the scene at 7:35 a.m. on Jan. 7 said Keller was coming down a driveway with Eric Slaughter.
Detective Michael Wenger said the victim had a number of burns and bruises on him.
He said at the house he found a torn sheet, cut up boxer shorts and a knife with a charred tip.
Slaughter and Felts were bound over on criminal conspiracy, especially aggravated kidnapping, extortion, aggravated robbery, and aggravated assault. Ms. Davis was bound over on especially aggravated kidnapping, extortion, and criminal conspiracy. Ms. Thomas was bound over on especially aggravated kidnapping, extortion, criminal conspiracy and aggravated robbery. Laymon was bound over on two counts of aggravated robbery, one count of criminal conspiracy, one count of aggravated assault, one count of extortion and one count of especially aggravated kidnapping.