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Australian businessman charged in fatal West Hollywood hit-and-run [Updated]

November 15, 2010 |  1:04 pm

Prosecutors charged an Australian businessman with a felony hit-and-run charge in connection with the death of a 21-year-old woman who was struck and killed by the driver of a Bentley last week in West Hollywood, a spokeswoman for the L.A. County district attorney's office said Monday.

Ryan Bowman, 43, is expected to plead not guilty Monday afternoon in Beverly Hills court. He faces a potential four-year prison sentenced if convicted.

[Updated 4:45 p.m.: Bowman was released from custody Monday afternoon after posting $50,000 bail, which had been reduced from $2 million. Bowman did not enter a plea to the hit-and-run charge put forward by prosecutors. He is scheduled to return Jan. 4 to Beverly Hills Superior Court.]

[Correction, 9 p.m.: A previous version of this post incorrectly said that Bowman pleaded not guilty.]

Bowman was behind the wheel of a Bentley that slammed into Lauren Ann Freeman as she was in the crosswalk at Hammond Street about 11:50 p.m. Wednesday, authorities said. Freeman's body was thrown about 50 feet.

Sheriff's investigators said Bowman sped away in the car, and that debris found at the scene suggested that the vehicle could have been a dark-colored Bentley. Investigators said they found a Bentley abandoned in a residential neighborhood near the intersection of Melrose Avenue and La Cienega Boulevard, about 1 1/2 miles from the incident.

Bowman is a director of Zeal Entertainment, a Sydney Australia based company that provides content  licensing agreements for mobile phone companies. The company owns the rights to "Girls Gone Wild" for Australia.

Freeman, who graduated in June from the Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising in downtown Los Angeles, had attended a concert for the It Boys at the Roxy Theatre in West Hollywood with a friend.

John Nazarian, a Beverly Hills private detective who is representing Freeman's family, said the woman left the concert early because she had to get up early for an internship.

Also:

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Lindsay Lohan gets CHP escort as paparazzi chase during return to Betty Ford (VIDEO)

-- Andrew Blankstein

Twitter.com/anblanx

Click to visit The Times' interactive Homicide Report

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