PROSSER -- A Canadian reporter was ordered Friday to hand over her passport and remain in Washington while fighting allegations she threatened to kill her hockey player boyfriend and drove to the Tri-Cities to confront him.
Tieja MacLaughlin, 25, was released Friday from the Benton County jail in Kennewick after family members posted a bond.
Hours earlier, Judge Vic VanderSchoor lowered her bail to $10,000 during her first appearance in Benton County Superior Court.
She pleaded innocent to one count of felony harassment with domestic violence for the incident involving Jackson Playfair, a forward for the Tri-Cities Americans.
Her trial is March 10.
MacLaughlin cried in court as she sat in the jury box with other inmates, and later while standing next to her attorney, Anthony Ochs of Richland.
Her mother and aunt sat nearby for the hearing. Ochs told the judge that MacLaughlin's mom flew in Thursday night from Ontario, Canada, and her aunt drove down.
Ochs pointed out that his client has no criminal history in the United States, and said she assures him the same is true in Canada.
MacLaughlin "promises to not have any contact with Mr. Playfair," Ochs said, and is "fully intending to return to court." The lawyer had asked for reasonable bail, if not released on her personal recognizance.
Deputy Prosecutor Brendan Siefken wanted the judge to keep bail at $50,000. He argued that if MacLaughlin returns to Canada, she may not return for court and there are procedural concerns in trying to get her back to Benton County.
VanderSchoor said she must stay in the U.S. until the criminal case is resolved.
MacLaughlin is a freelance news and sports reporter for two media outlets in Kelowna, B.C., according to her LinkedIn profile. It also shows that she has covered the Kelowna Rockets of the Western Hockey League.
A Jan. 22 Tri-City Herald story about her arrest went viral online and has drawn interest from media outlets across Canada.
Playfair, 19, has been with the Tri-City team since Jan. 10 after a trade with the Spokane Chiefs. His father is Jim Playfair, a coach for the Phoenix Coyotes, an NHL team.
MacLaughlin and Playfair reportedly started dating in July, but he told Kennewick police it was a "rocky," on-again off-again relationship.
During a heated phone conversation late last week, Playfair admitted he had cheated on MacLaughlin with another woman while in Spokane, court documents said.
MacLaughlin became upset, began to make threats toward Playfair and said "he would be dead" by the following night, documents said.
Playfair told authorities that MacLaughlin threatened to kill him several times during the conversation, and said if he didn't figure things out before she arrived in the Tri-Cities, "things were going to get very bad," court documents said.
She allegedly ignored multiple requests by Playfair to cancel her planned visit to the Tri-Cities. Then, once in Kennewick, MacLaughlin promised police she'd leave Playfair alone but reportedly continued to send about 20 to 25 more text messages.
MacLaughlin denied making the comments, and told officers that Playfair had threatened to ruin her career and her life.