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Bail is denied in slaying

The Baltimore Sun

A Baltimore County judge denied bail yesterday for a 22-year-old man accused of fatally shooting the mother of his 3-year-old son in her rowhouse this week.

Ryan Joseph Butler is being held on a first-degree murder charge in the death of Anna Marie Bergman, 20, who lived in the 300 block of Westshire Road in a neighborhood just west of Baltimore City.

During a brief hearing in Towson District Court, a lawyer for Butler requested bail so the defendant could stay at his parents' Southwest Baltimore home.

The lawyer, John Martino, said that while Butler appears to have no documented history of mental illness, "I believe he has definitely demonstrated some of those tendencies to his family in the previous month or so."

Martino said that being confined to a jail cell might harm Butler's mental state.

Judge Jan Marshall Alexander pointed to the serious nature of the charge and the possible risk to public safety if Butler were released. "I believe no bail is appropriate," he said.

Butler, of the 3900 block of Benzinger Road in Southwest Baltimore, wore a yellow jumpsuit and bowed his head throughout the hearing, remaining expressionless. He was chained to other inmates awaiting bail reviews.

Martino declined to comment after the hearing.

Butler is accused of showing up at Bergman's home at 7:45 a.m. Monday, shooting her and driving away with the 3-year-old boy, charging documents state. Within minutes, police located his car near his parents' house on Ohio Avenue, the documents state. After a brief chase, Butler surrendered, and officers found a revolver and the boy in the car, according to the charging documents.

The boy was in the custody of Butler's parents, police said.

On Friday, Bergman saw a court commissioner about obtaining a restraining order against Butler but was told she did not qualify for one, friends and relatives have said.

Darrell S. Pressley, the deputy director of the Maryland Court Information Office, said yesterday that Bergman twice spoke to a court commissioner about "threats that were made" and about obtaining a court order to keep Butler away from her.

But on both occasions, Pressley said, the woman did not fill out the paperwork that is required before a judge or court commissioner can consider such a request. He said that decision was Bergman's choice and not the result of being told that she could not fill out the forms.

Anyone seeking a protective or peace order from the court must fill out a petition. There are no criteria or qualifications to apply for the orders, Pressley said.

Once a petition is filled out, the judge or court commissioner decides whether to grant an interim order. That remains in effect until a court hearing can be scheduled to consider a temporary order, which generally lasts seven days.

To obtain a final order - which remains in effect for six months to a year - another hearing must be held at which both the petitioner and respondent can present evidence.

Sun reporter Jennifer McMenamin contributed to this article.

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