Sievers receives $4.43 million bond in first court appearance

FORT MYERS, Fla. – After being under the “envelope of suspicion” for eight months, Mark Sievers received a $4.43 million bond Saturday morning in his first court appearance for allegedly planning and helping to carry out his wife’s June 2015 killing.

The bond matches the total amount in life insurance money for Dr. Teresa Sievers.

The first appearance, which Mark Sievers watched from a television monitor inside the Lee County jail, centered around the bond amount. Sporting a green jumpsuit, Mark Sievers remained quiet throughout the proceedings.

Lee Hollander, Mark Sievers’ attorney, initially requested a $250,000 bond, citing factors including his two children and that he has not left the area during the investigation.

“There’s no indication or anything else that he ever attempted to flee the jurisdiction,” he said.

While remaining in the area, Mark Sievers was not aware of the nature and scope of the investigation, Assistant State Attorney Hamid Hunter said.

“The state is concerned, and would submit the court should be concerned, that proceeds from the life insurance polices, which involves Dr. Sievers, could potentially be used to post bond in this case,” he said.

Hollander countered that any life insurance payments would not be distributed until the conclusion of the trial, but Lee County Circuit Court Judge John Duryea agreed with Hunter’s recommendation to set the bond in the amount of the insurance policy.

Duryea also requested that before Mark Sievers posts bond, that a hearing takes place to determine where the funds are coming from.

Hollander said his client cannot afford the bond, which is typically 10 percent of the total amount, and will ask for a bond reduction.

“I thought it went the way I figured it would go,” he said after the court proceeding. “It’s a first appearance, the dust is still up in the air.”

Hollander added that he couldn’t comment on the case because “I don’t know enough.”

“He was going through life trying to recover himself and take care of his two girls,” he said. “That’s all I can tell you.”

The court proceedings come nearly 24 hours after Mark Sievers’ childhood friend, Curtis Wayne Wright, 47, agreed to a 25 year prison sentence and to cooperate with prosecutors as part of a plea deal.

An arrest warrant for Mark Sievers was signed minutes after Wright pleaded guilty to second-degree murder.

Mark Sievers’ next scheduled court appearance is March 28.

DCF involvement

Prior to Mark Sievers’ first appearance, a hearing involving custody of the Sievers’ two daughters, ages 9 and 11, was continued to Monday morning.

“They do have a lot of people looking after them,” an attorney with the state Department of Children and Families said.

It was not immediately clear who is looking after the children, who were taken into DCF custody following Mark Sievers’ arrest.

The custody hearing is the second time DCF has been involved in the murder case.

The agency tried to take custody of the children in December after released court documents detailed detectives’ suspicion of Mark Sievers’ involvement.

State officials feared the children were in “impending danger” due to concerns regarding Sievers’ reaction if he is arrested. They expressed worry over the children’s lack of contact with Teresa Sievers’ family, saying he “controls who they talk to and when.”

“Yes, we do acknowledge he has been parenting the children appropriately but there has been an imminent risk of harm to these children the entire time,” DCF attorney Kristin Allain argued then. “It’s very hard to predict what can happen in the heat of the moment when facing situations such as these.”

Pamela Montgomery, who represented Mark Sievers, argued that any assumption of an arrest was speculative and questioned the validity of the documents because they were not signed or dated.

Lee County Judge Lee A. Schreiber ruled in favor of Mark Sievers, describing the state’s case as one based on “probability and speculation.”

Imminent arrest

Mark Sievers’ arrest seemed imminent after thousands of pages of court documents released over the past few months detailed investigators’ belief that he planned and helped execute the murder-for-hire plot for insurance money.

Their case against Wright, Mark Sievers and Jimmy Ray Rodgers, who is also charged with second-degree murder, is mostly dependent on circumstantial evidence and statements from Rodgers’ girlfriend, according to the documents released by the state Attorney’s Office:

  • Mark Sievers asked his mother-in-law to leave the home alarm deactivated hours before his wife arrived.
  • Neighbors said the couple argued loudly. Mark and Teresa Sievers were involved in “numerous affairs” and both were considering divorce.
  • Mark Sievers stopped cooperating with investigators when they asked for DNA samples from him.
  • GPS data from a vehicle Rodgers rented showed a route from Wright’s residence to his Missouri home, then a direct route to the Sievers residence. Multiple deleted GPS searches originating in the area of the Sievers’ home were also uncovered.
  • Surveillance video showed Wright and Rodgers purchasing “suspicious items” at the Walmart on Six Mile Cypress Parkway hours before the killing. Both men previously denied being in Florida.
  • Wright and Mark Sievers used “burner” phones and coded language to communicate.
  • A sworn statement from Rodgers’ girlfriend claiming he told her that he killed Teresa Sievers for insurance money.

Lee County Sheriff Mike Scott did not elaborate on what led investigators to arrest Mark Sievers, only saying during a press conference on Friday that the investigation “came to a conclusion” and that detectives have “a total body of work.”

Scott added that more documents further outlining their case will be released in the future.

Made for TV

Kenny Cousins, Teresa Sievers’ first husband, described the case as a made-for-TV movie.

“There’s a part of me that hoped it wasn’t somebody who loved her,” he said following Mark Sievers’ arrest. “Quite honestly, it’s really very difficult for me to accept a lot of this.”

Cousins said he remembered Wright and Mark Sievers talking to each other during Teresa Sievers’ funeral.

“It was really hard to gauge what (his) reaction was,” he said. “i only saw him for a few minutes. At that point no one really knew, it wasn’t really made public as to how she was killed.”

Halfway through the going way ceremony, Cousins had a bad feeling.

“It came over me that the person responsible for this could have been in that facility, could have been in that church,” he said. “Now i believe that it was an intuitive sense that was given to me. Thinking back on that and you know, strange feeling that i had.”

Jerry Lubinski, who knew Wright for eight years after meeting in church, continues to profess his friend’s innocence.

“If they have already offered him 25 years, i would imagine there’s going to be a lot of confessions and a lot of things going on,” he said. “I can’t seem to really…him being a part of it.”

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