Former Metrobus driver charged with murder after alleged drunk driving crash

The man accused of killing 58-year-old Lionel Bruce while driving drunk was presented in court Thursday for another chance at release.

After waiving his rights to a preliminary hearing, 57-year-old Michael Fenderson’s defense attorney advocated for her client’s release for a second time.

Fenderson’s lawyer emphasized Fenderson is “not a danger to the community,” arguing that his case was not an armed offense. Fenderson’s lawyer also emphasized that his criminal history is limited, citing two prior convictions of possession of a controlled substance.

To display Fenderson’s “outpouring support” from the community, the attorney read brief excerpts from 36 letters that were sent from community members detailing Fenderson’s impact on their life.

One of the excerpt read aloud, was from a woman who lost her husband suddenly. According to the woman, Fenderson stepped in and acted as a mentor to her son. The author of the letter said that because of Fenderson, her son didn’t become a part of a statistic and instead moved on to have a family of his own and a job at the Pentagon.

Fenderson’s work history as a metro bus driver for nine years was also cited as cause for his release, as he was called an “excellent worker” by his employer. Previously, Fenderson was a full-time roofer and before that he worked at NASA in computer science.

The prosecution opened his argument for detaining Fenderson by explaining that this crime, though it may appear minor in the likes of the overall felony calendar, should still be taken seriously.

The prosecution emphasized that Fenderson chose to drink and then drive which resulted in the death of a man. The prosecution pointed out that Fenderson self-reported his alcohol abuse while he was a metro bus driver, which the prosecution said, “should give the court pause.”

As a part of his argument, the prosecution also mentioned an April 2013 drunk driving incident that Fenderson was allegedly involved in.

After hearing both sides Judge Judith Bush ruled in favor of the defense and allowed for Fenderson’s release, though with conditions.

Under the terms of his release Fenderson must report for alcohol testing and undergo 24-hour home confinement except for verified medical appointments. In addition, Fenderson is not allowed to drive.

Judge Bush also granted the exception that Fenderson’s ankle monitor may be removed overnight in the event that he has surgery, which is a possibility mentioned by his attorney.

Fenderson is expected in court July 21 for a pretrial hearing.

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