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Bail reduction stuns family of abductee

The family of a 4-year-old girl abducted earlier this week sat in stunned silence and tears Friday as a judge reduced bail for the man accused of taking her.

David J. "D.J." Grover, who is charged with the Monday night abduction of Serenity Platts had his bail reduced to $20,000 from $200,000.

"I'm just disgusted that they would drop the bail by that much," said Serenity's mother, Christa Platts.

"We all think he is reckless," added the girl's father, Jason Platts.

Grover's brother, Kevin, said the family would try to post bail.

Grover, 29, of Belmont Avenue, Town of Tonawanda, is accused of taking Serenity from her home without permission from the girl's grandmother, who was baby-sitting her at the time, and driving around with her for four hours.

Police sent out an Amber Alert, and Serenity's disappearance was broadcast by the media and on electronic highway signs across the region.

Grover told police that he had snorted two lines of cocaine in the bathroom of the Platts' home and then just "started driving" when the drugs kicked in, forgetting he had put the girl in the back seat for a "ride around the block," according to police statements.

He dropped Serenity off near her home on Tremont Street early Tuesday morning, about four hours after he had taken her, and was captured by police after a 10-minute chase.

In the special felony hearing held Good Friday, when the court would otherwise be closed, City Judge William R. Lewis heard from Serenity's grandmother, Robin David, about the night of the abduction and from Detective Lt. William Krantz, who questioned Grover after his arrest.

Lewis said he reduced bail because he does not believe Grover is a flight risk. He also ordered that the case remain a felony case and be sent to the grand jury.

An order of protection also was issued, which requires Grover to stay away from the Platts family or face jail.

The Platts expressed concern that might not be enough, considering that they already had told Grover to stay away from their home before he showed up there Monday night.

Assistant District Attorney Caroline A. Wojataszek said that because of the girl's age, she was incapable of giving consent and that Grover took the girl within minutes of coming into the family's home.

"I'm glad that they sent this to the grand jury, but I'm very, very disappointed with the lowering of bail," Wojataszek said. "[Grover] has a past violent history and he is a danger to the community."

Grover's attorney, Mark D. Grossman, said his client played a bowling game with the girl and spoke with the grandmother. He said it was not a true case of abduction, but more likely a misdemeanor case of unlawful imprisonment.

"He did some things wrong, but it was not a kidnapping," Grossman said. "D.J. [Grover] is a person the girl loved. When you hear the facts of this case, it will show that he did not harm or touch her. He did not intend to commit this serious crime. When we go to trial, [Serenity's] grandmother will be asked more questions. I personally do not believe she is a credible witness and believe that she knew [Serenity] was going for a ride."

Grover's brother agreed, "I do not believe he abducted her," Kevin Grover said.

e-mail: nfischer@buffnews.com

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