Bail lowered for suspect in alleged murder plot

MIDDLETOWN, Conn. -- A Superior Court judge has reduced the bail of a psychologist who is accused of conspiring to kill the
stepfather of Seattle SuperSonics basketball star Ray Allen.

Ernest C. Garlington, 37, had been held on $1.7 million bond. It
was reduced to $750,000, which his lawyer said Garlington will be
able to post.

Garlington and Terrence Battle, 31, of Waterbury are charged
with conspiring with Robbie Santos, who fired a gun at psychologist
Derek Hopson outside a mental health clinic in Middletown two years
ago. The gun jammed and Hopson was not injured. Hopson was also
attacked with a golf club in August 2002.

Flora Allen-Hopson, Allen's mother, said she is considering
moving her family from the state because of the judge's decision.

"I will not live my life in fear," Allen-Hopson told The
Hartford Courant. "I always felt safe in Connecticut, it's been my
home, but there comes a time when a home and all this stuff doesn't

"I think the justice system needs to get a little tougher on
things. This is our life, and I am hurt by this ruling."

Santos is serving an 18-year prison term for firing a shot from
a .25-caliber pistol at Hopson on May 21, 2003, outside the mental
health clinic where Hopson worked. Santos ran off when his gun
jammed, according to testimony at his trial.

Prosecutors said Santos was offered $8,000 to kill Hopson.

Garlington and Battle also are accused in an assault on Hopson
with a golf club in the same parking lot on Aug. 12, 2002.

Hopson was once married to Garlington's wife and is now married
to Flora Allen-Hopson, the mother of Allen.

Garlington is director of psychological services at New
Opportunities Inc., a nonprofit corporation that administers social
service programs for low-income families in Waterbury and nearby

In court Monday, Garlington's lawyer, William F. Dow III,
submitted several letters of reference. Former Hartford Mayor
Carrie Saxon Perry called Garlington an "exemplary model and
mentor." Kevin Coyle, assistant football coach of the Cincinnati
Bengals, said he met Garlington while coaching him at the College
of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Mass., and found him "a man of
tremendous character and integrity."

Police documents will remain sealed until Thursday.