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No Bail for Bodybuilding’s Love Couple

LAS VEGAS – Professional bodybuilders Craig Titus and Kelly Ryan will remain in a Nevada jail at least until the end of March, when the state is due to present preliminary evidence that they drugged, killed and burned the body of their live-in personal assistant.

“The defendants will continue to be held without bail,” Las Vegas Justice of the Peace Joe M. Bonaventure said Friday as he rejected Titus’ and Ryan’s lawyers’ arguments that the married couple, who were arrested Dec. 23 near Boston, posed no flight risk.

Lawyers for Titus, 41, and Ryan, 33, maintain that their husband-and-wife clients aren’t guilty and were entitled to bail because the state had not presented enough evidence that a murder had been committed.

“They don’t even have an autopsy that establishes a cause of death,” Ryan’s lawyer, Tom Pitaro, said.

The judge said he would reconsider his ruling after a March 29 hearing at which prosecutors will seek to have Titus and Ryan bound over for trial on felony murder, kidnapping and arson charges.

Prosecutor Robert Daskas has called it premature to say whether the state will seek the death penalty.

Titus is a 1996 bodybuilding champion and Mr. Olympia competitor. Ryan is a past Fitness America and Fitness International winner.

They are accused of using a Taser stun gun, administering morphine or a related drug, and asphyxiating or suffocating Melissa James, a 28-year-old former fitness instructor who moved last year from Lambertville, N.J., to live with the couple.

James’ charred body was found Dec. 14 in the trunk of Ryan’s burned-out Jaguar sedan off a desert highway with what authorities described as a fabric or wire around her neck.

That same day, Titus told Las Vegas police he’d had an affair with James. By the time police obtained arrest warrants Dec. 20, Titus and Ryan had left the state.

They were arrested Dec. 23 at a nail salon in Stoughton, Mass., and gave statements to authorities that Daskas said included admissions that they doused James’ body with a flammable liquid, drove it to the desert and set it afire.

Bonaventure did not rule Friday on a request from defense lawyers to suppress those statements.

An alleged accomplice, Anthony Gross, 23, has pleaded not guilty to accessory to murder and third-degree arson charges. He is accused of buying gasoline for Titus, who allegedly drove the Jaguar to a remote spot off a desert highway and set it afire. Gross remains under house arrest after posting $13,000 bail.

On Friday, Titus and Ryan, wearing blue cotton jail uniforms, sat separated by their lawyers with a jail guard behind their chairs. They said nothing during the hearing.

Titus’ lawyer, Richard Schonfeld, complained that Titus was being kept in isolation at the Clark County jail – a procedure authorities use to protect celebrity inmates.


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