Man accused of killing monkey doesn't face animal cruelty charge, yet

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by Scott Evans

KREM.com

Posted on November 21, 2012 at 8:43 AM

BOISE -- The Fruitland man accused of killing a patas monkey at Zoo Boise on Saturday faces several criminal charges, but cruelty to animals is not one of them. Michael Watkins is charged with burglary and grand theft.

Many want to know why there is no animal cruelty charge.

Ada County prosecutors have said that more charges could come and animal cruelty could be one of them.

The reason that's not the headlining charge is because animal cruelty is only a misdemeanor in Idaho. The first animal cruelty conviction is a misdemeanor, with jail time up to six months. The second offense in a 10-year period is a misdemeanor as well, carrying a maximum penalty of nine months in jail.

It's not until the third conviction of malicious animal cruelty in a 15-year period that it becomes a felony, with up to a year in prison.

The Idaho Legislature just updated Idaho's animal cruelty laws earlier this year, and those are the new penalties.

Even still, grand theft holds a harsher penalty of a fine up to $5,000 and up to 14 years in prison. Burglary carries a penalty of up to 10 years in prison.

The reason grand theft applies to this case is because Watkins is accused of killing an animal with a value over $150.

Watkins was transferred to the Ada County Jail late Tuesday afternoon. He'll make a court appearance Wednesday in Boise, where he could face more charges.

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