A 19-year-old man accused of driving away after a striking a young man with a car on Frederica Road on St. Simons Island in the dark morning hours of July 7 was granted bond Thursday, but not before an additional charge of tampering with evidence was filed against him in Glynn County Magistrate Court.
Michael Francisco Harris of St. Simons Island was released from the Glynn County Detention later Thursday after posting $50,000 bond, a jail spokeswoman said. His release was contingent on several conditions, including surrendering his passport, adhering to a strict nighttime curfew, surrendering driving privileges and visiting a probation officer regularly, a court spokeswoman said.
Glynn County Police arrested Harris on July 8, charging him with hit and run resulting in serious injury, leaving the scene of an accident and serious injury by vehicle. Prior to Thursday, Harris had been held without bond on the charge of hit and run resulting in serious injury, jail records show.
During Thursday’s hearing, Magistrate Court Judge Wallace Harrell added the charge of tampering with evidence, at the behest of the attorneys with the Brunswick Judicial Circuit’s District Attorney’s Office. The DA’s office sought the tampering charge based on evidence presented under testimony by arresting county police officer Brandon Rusch, DA spokesman Mark Spaulding said. The officer’s testimony indicated Harris allegedly attempted to conceal pieces of broken windshield from the vehicle he was driving, Spaulding said.
Rilyn Ellis, 19, of St. Simons Island, remained Friday at UF Health Hosptial, where he faces surgery for injuries that include a fractured neck and broken leg, family members said.
Ellis was walking across Frederica Road near the entrance to the St. Clair community when he was struck by a vehicle at around 2 a.m., county police said. He was walking north toward his home near South Harrington Drive. A Lyft driver called 911 after she drove up on Ellis as he was badly injured and sprawled in the middle of the Frederica Road.
Police investigators appealed to the public via the media for information on a red Ford Crown Victoria with likely damage to its driver’s side mirror, windshield, bumper and fender. Police have still not released the report on their incident.
However, according to the criminal arrest warrant filed in Glynn County Magistrate Court, police say Harris was driving a black Mercedes-Benz CLK320 when he allegedly struck Ellis.
“Michael Francisco Harris did operate his black Mercedes-Benz CLK320 northbound on Frederica Road near St. Clair Parkway and struck Rilyn Stephan Ellis who was in the roadway and causing bodily harm,” the warrant states.
The warrant further alleges that Harris “left the scene of the accident without rendering aid or making his identity known.”