A San Mateo County judge has tripled the bail for Gregory Elarms Sr., the suspected killer of East Palo Alto community activist David Lewis.
Police said on June 9, 2010, Elarms, 60, laid in wait for Lewis at San Mateo General Hospital where Lewis worked and followed him to the shopping center where he confronted him and shot him once.
Lewis was a well-known community activist who helped found the Free At Last drug rehabilitation program in East Palo Alto and was instrumental in starting the successful parolee reentry program. The two knew each other as youths in East Palo Alto.
The killing stumped police for six months until Elarms met with investigators claiming he had information about the crime. He allegedly made statements to police that inculpated himself in the crime.
But on Nov. 6, San Mateo County Superior Court Judge Stephen Hall threw out murder and weapons charges after finding that police had violated his First Amendment rights. San Mateo police questioned him repeatedly after he had demanded to see an attorney, the judge found.
But Elarms still faced one count of possessing a weapon in jail, and his bail was set at $150,000. The San Mateo District Attorney's Office had that charge dropped, and prosecutors refiled a separate case against Elarms of three counts of possessing weapons in jail. The weapons were a sharpened toothbrush, a sharpened spork, and two sharpened pencils that were tied together to work as a stabbing instrument, prosecutors said.
On Monday, Judge John Grandsaert granted the prosecution's request to increase Elarms' bail to $500,000.
District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe has said his office sought to keep Elarms, whom they believe to be dangerous, off the streets while the California Attorney General takes the murder-case dismissal on appeal. The appeal could take 12 to 18 months.
The court ruled that bail would be reviewable next week at the conclusion of the preliminary hearing. The preliminary examination is scheduled for Nov. 26.