A man accused of trying to burn down a pet shop with puppies inside was arrested in Crown Point, Ind., by a Chicago based FBI violent crimes task force, the Las Vegas Review-Journal learned late Friday.
Authorities have been hunting for Kirk Bills since an arrest warrant was issued Wednesday on allegations that on Jan. 27 he and Gloria Lee tried to set ablaze her Prince and Princess Pet Boutique at 6870 S. Rainbow Road, south of the Las Vegas Beltway. Prosecutor Shanon Clowers confirmed Bills’ arrest late Friday.
Meanwhile, Lee was remanded to to jail Friday morning after a new judge in the case set bail at $310,000.
Lee, 35, had earlier posted $40,000 bail and was on house arrest prior to Friday’s ruling by Las Vegas Justice of the Peace Janiece Marshall.
But Clowers sought $400,000 in bail after filing a new criminal complaint earlier this week with a total of 31 charges, including 27 counts of attempted animal cruelty, one for each puppy. If Lee is convicted of those 27 counts a judge would then decide if she should be sentenced under felony or gross misdemeanor guidelines. She could face dozens of years in prison if convicted.
Afterward, Lee’s lawyer Ozzie Fumo said, “The purpose of bail is supposed to be to ensure an appearance in court, not pretrial punishment, which is what the state got today.”
Fumo and co-counsel Tom Pitaro had asked to keep any new bail setting low, noting that Lee has made all of her court appearances.
Clowers argued that Lee was a danger to the community considering the property damage done by the fire to her store, the animals that were placed in danger and damage done to a neighboring store which must be closed for a month for repairs
The prosecutor added Lee had three prior convictions from California, for escape, larceny from a bank and forgery. Clowers has noted that Lee was born in Korea and was a flight risk considering her ties to that country and California.
Lee also had a prior run-in with Clark County animal control officers in 2008. She was charged with 37 counts for violating county ordinances in caring for the animals in her pet shop, including failure to vaccinate the animals and improper confinement of the animals. The case was later dismissed after Lee corrected the violations.
Pitaro disputed the escape conviction and said the other two convictions were more than a decade old.
Following Marshall’s ruling, Lee was handcuffed and taken out of the courtroom by marshals. She was to be booked into the Clark County Detention Center. It’s unclear if she will be able to post the hefty bail.
Authorities said surveillance video of the incident shows Lee let a man identified by authorities as Kirk Bills into the shop, where he tried to start a fire using kerosene splashed onto the puppy cages. The blaze was quickly extinguished by a sprinkler system in the store and the puppies survived unharmed.
Bills is facing similar charges in the case and is expected to be extradicted back to Las Vegas in the coming weeks.
Prior to the bail hearing more than a dozen animal rights activists demonstrated outside the downtown Regional Justice Center and then, along with a throng of media, helped pack Marshall’s courtroom.
Lee’s case was heard earlier in the week by Justice of the Peace Joe Sciscento, but was consolidated with Bills case which was before Marshall.
A preliminary hearing was set for Feb. 24, where prosecutors must show they have enough evidence to take the case to trial. Clowers has served Lee and her lawyers with court papers indicating the case may be brought before a grand jury prior to the preliminary hearing.
A status check was set in the case for Tuesday.
Meanwhile, the puppies remain at the Animal Foundation where they are being fully vaccinated as county officials determine who they belong to.
Contact reporter Francis McCabe at fmccabe@review journal.com or 702-380-1039.