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JUDGE REFUSES TO REVOKE BAIL FOR LIGER OWNERS

Bannock County has failed in its latest attempt to put the former operators of the ramshackle Ligertown exotic animal farm back behind bars while they appeal their misdemeanor convictions.

Sixth District Judge Randy Smith on Monday rejected on procedural grounds the petition by deputy prosecutor Mark Murphy for revocation of bond for Dotti Martin and Robert Fieber.Smith said he would hear a procedurally proper petition on the issue at a later date.

Fieber and Martin, both 57, were convicted on 11 misdemeanor counts of cruelty to animals, creating a public nuisance and zoning violations in connection with their operation of the compound near Lava Hot Springs. Nineteen exotic cats were shot last September after several escaped from the farm. The county moved in to take control of the animals, shipping them to other locations for care.

Fieber, who had similar trouble with authorities in Oregon during the 1980s, was sentenced to a year in jail followed by 71/2 years probation. Martin was to serve six months in jail and then 71/2 years probation.

The pair was freed a week ago after Magistrate Mark Beebe reassessed the law and determined his original bond of $11,000 each - $1,000 for each misdemeanor - was excessive and could not exceed $1,000 total.

Murphy contends that the district court can overrule Beebe's decision on the bond and that the crimes involved justify keeping Fieber and Martin in jail while their appeals are being considered.

But Smith pointed out that the county had already conceded that the bond for a misdemeanor case is $1,000.