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Sunset hit-and-run suspect released on bail

November 15, 2010 12:00:00 AM PST
An Australian businessman was charged on Monday in connection with a deadly hit-and-run on the Sunset Strip in West Hollywood. Deputies said 34-year-old Ryan Bowman was behind the wheel of the Bentley that killed 21-year-old Lauren Ann Freeman last Wednesday night.

Los Angeles County prosecutors charged Bowman with leaving the scene of a collision. He could face up to four years in state prison if convicted. However, district attorney's spokeswoman Jane Robison said the investigation continues and Bowman could face other charges.

Bowman's bail was initially $2 million, but after charges were filed, the bail was reduced to $50,000. Bowman posted bail and left jail Monday afternoon.

"After a discussion with the judge, the judge was convinced he was not a flight risk, that this was an isolated incident, that he had voluntarily surrendered, and therefore it should be a standard bail for a felony hit and run, which is $50,000," said Dana Cole, an ABC News legal analyst. "

Due to the ongoing investigation, attorneys agreed to postpone Bowman's arraignment until Jan. 4.

The victim's family has hired a private investigator to look into Bowman's background.

Police said Freeman was leaving the Roxy Theatre in West Hollywood around 11:50 p.m. Wednesday after attending a concert.

According to officials, Freeman was crossing Sunset Boulevard and Hammond Street when she was struck and thrown about 50 feet.

The suspect allegedly fled the scene and dropped off his gray Bentley about half a mile away. The next day, Bowman turned himself in to authorities.

Bowman has hired Blair Berk as his defense attorney. Berk has represented celebrities such as Mel Gibson and Lindsay Lohan in the past.

Bowman is the chief executive and founder of Australian-based Zeal Entertainment and has an office not far from where Freeman was killed. He brought "Girls Gone Wild," the popular American franchise, to Australia and he also owns and runs the mobile-phone application of "Girl's Gone Wild" everywhere outside of the United States.

The businessman made big news in Australia a few years ago when he tried to set up a "booze cruise" for high school graduates and film them. He got such bad press that he canceled the project.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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