A man charged with trying to stalk teen star Miley Cyrus told an investigator he planned on returning to her Georgia movie set and “finishing things,” her security guard told a judge Tuesday.
Municipal Court Judge Steven Scheer refused a request to lower Mark McLeod’s $55,200 bond and ruled there was sufficient evidence to send the case to Chatham County State Court.
Scheer said he felt McLeod, 53, had no chance of getting to the 16-year-old “Hannah Montana” star because she “can afford the best protection money can buy,” but he feared McLeod might be a threat to others.
Cyrus recently finished filming “The Last Song” on Tybee Island and in neighboring Savannah. Police say McLeod came to the island twice, once in June, then again this month asking where he could find her.
Robert Merriman, a former Savannah-Chatham County police detective hired by Walt Disney Pictures to protect Cyrus, testified that McLeod made a taped statement to a sheriff’s investigator in Columbia County, where he was arrested at his home Aug. 4.
“He said that he knew the filming was going to be ending soon and he was going to be coming back to Tybee Island and finishing things,” said Merriman, who told the judge that he interpreted the comment as a threat.
“I can’t deny him bond, but if I could I would because I do feel he’s a danger,” Scheer said.
James Byrne, McLeod’s defense attorney, said McLeod is an unemployed assistant plumber and will likely remain in jail because he cannot afford bond. All charges against him are misdemeanors.
“He’s been kind of painted as this monster, but he’s got a family,” Byrne said. “He’s not a danger. What he said I understand was unsettling to a lot of folks ... but it doesn’t make him a stalker.”
Police say McLeod told an officer he was engaged to marry Cyrus and she sent him secret messages through her TV show after his first arrest June 22 on charges of disorderly conduct and obstruction of a police officer.
But police backed away from an earlier assertion that McLeod had tried to breach a security barricade around the beachside film set.
Tybee Island police officer Javier Valdez said he arrested McLeod after approaching him about complaints that McLeod was bothering young girls gathered near the set. He testified that McLeod refused to leave and began cursing, prompting police to arrest and handcuff him.
McLeod was released from jail and returned to Tybee Island earlier this month. Merriman said security officers saw him going door-to-door at homes near the film crew’s base camp asking residents where Cyrus was staying. He was arrested again, on attempted stalking charges, a few days later.
Prosecutor Jennifer Guyer told the judge that McLeod had a previous arrest in 2003 on charges of contributing to the delinquency of a minor when he illegally transported a girl across the Georgia-South Carolina state line.