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Judge reduces bail for suspect in slaying Canadian businessman after Puerto Rico's bail bond company liquidation

A judge allowed a man accused of slaying a Canadian businessman to stay free on reduced bail Wednesday after his original guarantee was canceled when Puerto Rico's largest bail bond company was liquidated.

Jonathan Roman Rivera, who has pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder, was ordered to pay US$500 (EUR 362) in cash toward substitute bail of US$5,000 (EUR 3,625) to avoid being jailed ahead of trial.

He is accused of beating and stabbing Adam Anhang as he and his wife walked through San Juan's colonial district in September 2005. Roman worked as a dishwasher at the restaurant Anhang had bought for his wife.

Superior Court Judge Isabel Llompart granted a defense request to reduce the original bail of US$100,000 (EUR 72,495) that was guaranteed by the Puerto Rico Bonding Co., which entered liquidation in June. Prosecutors said Roman was among more than 200 defendants left uncovered by the company's failure.

The defendants can file claims against the company for money owed, but they likely will not receive the full amount they paid.

"The bail situation is extraordinary," Llompart said. "In light of the gentleman's record of appearances, we will accept the defense's petition."

Prosecutors wanted bail to remain at US$100,000 (EUR 72,495), but defense lawyers argued that Roman is not a flight risk because he has not missed a court appearance and wears an electronic ankle monitor. He also holds another bond for a weapons charge.

Anhang, 32, moved to Puerto Rico from Winnipeg in 2004. He was a real-estate investor in several hotel projects in the U.S. Caribbean territory and chief executive officer of an Internet gambling software company.

A jury trial is scheduled to begin Aug. 20.