By LAUREN SILVER
NELSON COUNTY, Ky. (Court TV) — A Kentucky judge has ruled that if the man accused of murdering his girlfriend in 2015 wants to get out of jail, he’ll have to pay a $10 million bond.
Brooks Houck has pleaded not guilty to charges of murder and tampering with evidence in the 2015 disappearance of his girlfriend at the time, Crystal Rogers. Rogers was last seen at Houck’s family farm on July 3, 2015. Her car was found with a flat tire on the side of a parkway with her phone, purse and keys inside.
On Thursday, Houck’s attorneys argued at his arraignment that his bond should be reduced, calling the $10 million bond “unprecedented.”
Judge Charles Simms III issued his decision not to lower Houck’s bond on Monday. Simms cited several factors, including concerns about witnesses in the case and Houck’s family’s behavior.
At Thursday’s arraignment, prosecutors revealed that they had evidence indicating that members of the Houck family had illegally and secretly recorded grand jury proceedings, allegedly in an effort to coordinate their testimony.
Prosecutors also revealed at the hearing, for the first time publicly, that they had linked the gun used to kill Rogers’ father, Tommy Ballard, to Houck’s brother, Nick. Ballard was shot and killed 16 months after his daughter disappeared while hunting on his own property.
In his order, Simms said that Nick Houck, who had been a police officer, was “terminated for interfering with this criminal investigation,” and listed him as one of the members of Houck’s family who recorded the jury.
Simms also referenced a concern for the witnesses in the case, citing the connection prosecutors mentioned between Nick Houck and the gun used to kill Ballard.
“There is reason to believe that the Commonwealth may have one or more cooperating witnesses, and this Court is gravely concerned for the safety of any such witness(es) and any other individuals connected to this case.”
Simms’ ruling also referenced what he referred to as Houck’s “substantial financial resources.” According to records from the Kentucky Secretary of State, Brooks Houck is the sole member of three business entities that own 83 properties, most of which are rental properties. The tax assessments for 66 of the properties total approximately $8,500,000.
On Tuesday, Houck filed an appeal of the judge’s decision to the Kentucky Court of Appeals.