LAS VEGAS – A judge set bail Wednesday at $2.26 million for a British motivational speaker accused of killing a Las Vegas woman during a meditation session and stuffing her severed body in a trash barrel.
Michael Victor Lane, 37, spoke just twice, answering "Yes, ma'am," to acknowledge that he understood the charges against him as he stood in shackles before Las Vegas Justice of the Peace Nancy Oesterle.
"This is a very gruesome case," prosecutor Giancarlo Pesci said of the slaying of Ginger Candela, 44. "What's alleged is that he cut her in half, literally, and put her body in a trash can and fled to California with her credit cards and vehicle."
Lane's court-appointed lawyer, Dan Silverstein, characterized the allegations of murder, robbery and auto theft as unproven. Lane intends to plead not guilty, Silverstein said.
In a separate case, Lane is charged with attempted murder and other crimes. Police accuse him of using Candela's 2005 Toyota sport utility vehicle to hit and injure a man about 10 days after the Candela slaying. Investigators identified that victim as a transsexual whom Lane met on the Internet for sex.
The judge set a Jan. 11 hearing to determine if there is enough evidence to bind both cases over for trial.
Investigators are still trying to determine a motive for the Candela slaying, Pesci said. Clark County District Attorney David Roger and a panel of advisers will decide if Lane should face the death penalty if convicted of killing her, he said.
Lane recently moved to Las Vegas from England and moved in with Candela, police said.
According to a police report, he acknowledged killing her during a Nov. 13 bedroom mediation session that started with compressions of her neck to induce a deeper trance.
Lane told detectives he hit Candela in the head several times with a frying pan and hung her from the end of the bed with an electrical cord around her neck until she died.
He said he later cut Candela's body in half, put it into a trash can and covered it with bleach, cinder blocks and bags of cement. Police found the body Nov. 30 in the garage after Candela's daughter reported her missing.
Lane was arrested Dec. 3 at a motel in Ventura, Calif., where police said he checked in Nov. 28 using Candela's name and credit card. Candela's maroon Toyota SUV was parked out front.
Police were checking Lane's travels to other cities, including Portland, Ore., and San Diego, where they believe he sometimes used the name Chae Saville and befriended women interested in his spiritual healing techniques, Las Vegas police Lt. Lewis Roberts said Wednesday.
Lane was being held at the Clark County jail in Las Vegas. He won't be able to raise bail, Silverstein said.