PETERSBURG — After taking testimony and attorney arguments into consideration, Pike County Circuit Judge Jeffrey Biesterveld denied a request to reduce the bond set for Jordan Hunt, a Hazleton man charged in connection with the death of two animals.
Hunt, 28, is in custody at the Pike County Jail on a $350,000 bond ($35,000 cash) following his arrest Sept. 26 in rural Hazelton. He he is charged with felony counts of intimidation, domestic violence animal cruelty and killing a domestic animal.
According to the court record, the judge determined "clear and convincing evidence that the defendant poses a risk to the physical safety of another person or the community."
Hunt is accused of shooting and burning two dogs in rural Pike County after taking them from his ex-girlfriend's apartment in Evansville. Hunt also has pending charges out of Vanderburgh County for burglary of a dwelling and theft, where the defendant has a prior conviction.
During Hunt's requested bond reduction hearing Oct. 24, defense attorney John Sievers argued that Hunt is not a flight risk and focused on the ties his family has to the community. Sievers told the court the bond amount for the level of felonies (levels 5 and 6) was excessive.
Hunt testified that he has never missed a court date or broken rules of probation for any previous criminal offenses. He said his last offense was nearly seven years ago.
Prosecuting attorney Sarah Christianson argued that the bond may be excessive, but so was the crime. Christianson called Indiana State Police Master Trooper Paul Bastin, the owner of the two dogs Chelsie Koutz and Caryn Burton, a training coordinator with the Indiana Coalition Against Domestic Violence, as witnesses.
Koutz testified that she is afraid of Hunt and doen't believe he will obey a no-contact order if he is released from jail on a lower bond.
Burton testified about the signs of domestic violence and the chance for further escalation. She said that animal abuse is often used as a method of control or manipulation from one person to another in a domestic violence situation.
She also testified that separation violence is most prevalent for the three to six months following a breakup or separation. She said it can also increase the risk of violence if there are court proceedings or legal action pending against the accused person.
Hunt's next pre-trial conference is at 8:30 a.m. EST Nov. 20, and a final pre-trial hearing is at 1 p.m. EST Jan. 22, 2019. He has a Feb. 4, 2019 trial date.