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July 27, 2015

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Bail set at $250,000 for teacher arrested in DUI case that critically injured teen

Arraignment set for Friday morning for Noel Lardeo

Noel Lardeo

Noel Lardeo

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On most mornings, Noel Lardeo would be standing in front of a classroom of boisterous first-graders, getting ready to start the lesson plan of the day at Roger Bryan Elementary School.

But on Wednesday morning, the 26-year-old teacher was dressed in a blue jail jumpsuit and standing in front of a Las Vegas judge.

Lardeo was listening to attorneys argue back and forth about bail — and how much of a danger she was to the community for allegedly driving drunk and critically injuring a 15-year-old boy early Sunday morning in the western Las Vegas Valley.

Eventually, Justice of the Peace Suzan Baucum set bail for Lardeo at $250,000 and set her arraignment for 7:30 a.m. Friday.

But not until a prosecutor had said she couldn't be trusted to drive because she had "maimed a child" and couldn't be trusted to return to court because she hadn't taken care of a minor traffic ticket.

During the short hearing this morning, attorneys first argued about charges.

Lardeo’s attorney, Frank Cofer, pointed out to the judge that Lardeo had been in the Clark County Detention Center for three days without any formal complaints filed by the District Attorney's office.

"Your honor, I would ask that my client be released. She has been in custody more than 72 hours and there are no charges filed against her," Cofer said.

Chief Deputy District Attorney Brian Rutledge told the judge he would have the complaint ready on Friday — he said there was no requirement that charges had to be ready by the 72 hour hearing.

"A blood test is being completed on this. We expect to have it in time for arraignment on Friday morning," Rutledge said.

Metro Police have said it appeared that Lardeo was driving a 2005 Acura TSX west on Spring Mountain Road, west of El Camino Road, at 5:08 a.m. Sunday.

At that her car went off the right side of the road, collided with a bus shelter and struck a 15-year-old boy waiting nearby, police said.

The boy was transported to University Medical Center’s trauma unit in critical condition. Lardeo and her passenger, 36-year-old Artemio Rios, did not report injuries, police said.

Rutledge told the judge that the boy suffered severe injuries "that will cost him at least one of his legs."

Lardeo allegedly failed a standard field sobriety test and was arrested on one count of DUI resulting in substantial bodily harm, one count of failure to stop at an intersection, one count of no registration in vehicle, two counts of no driver’s license in possession and one count of open container in vehicle while driving.

Cofer asked Judge Baucum to at least address the issue of bail, "although I don't know if there's a procedure for that because a complaint has not yet been filed."

Cofer told the judge that the appropriate course would be to release her and let her appear back in court Friday, when formal charges would be filed.

Rutledge said he would agree to setting bail — he asked for $1 million.

"Your honor, $1 million is clearly excessive," Cofer said.

Lardeo's attorney said standard bail for category B felonies for intentional crimes — such as battery with the use of a deadly weapon or for substantial bodily harm or mayhem, or if someone had intentionally cut off another person's limb — is $20,000.

"The purpose of bail is not for punishment," Cofer said. "It's only to assure the appearance of the defendant and to protect the public."

He argued that if the court were to set a $20,000 bail, that would ensure Lardeo's appearance in court. And, in terms of protecting the public, the court could order her not to drive or even have her wear a SCRAM bracelet.

Rutledge said the lower bail would do neither.

"First of all, this woman has a bench warrant for traffic tickets, which proves she doesn't show up even on minor traffic offenses — which let her out to continue to do major traffic offenses," Rutledge said.

In terms of being a danger to the community, "I can't think of anyone who is a greater danger to the community. And no bracelet or anything — I mean, saying, 'Oh, don't drink and drive'— she already knew that. She has already maimed a child. It's ridiculous to say she wouldn't be a danger."

Cofer told the judge she also had the option of requiring intensive supervision or arrest, which, he said, would be sufficient to protect the public, but not more than necessary.

"The point is, $1 million bail, judge, is just punitive," Cofer said. "She ought to have a chance to get out of custody and litigate her case like a normal citizen."

Baucum asked Lardeo how long she has lived in the community.

Lardeo, who spoke so quietly the judge had to ask her twice, said three years. She also told the judge she worked for the Clark County School District.

"I'm going to set bail at $250,000," Baucum said.

Outside the courtroom, Cofer said he thought the bail was high.

"But I was expecting it to be high like this, just because of the media attention in this case," he said. "And there was a severe injury in the case."

In terms of outstanding traffic tickets, "I think she had had a traffic ticket that she had neglected to pay," Cofer said.

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