LAS VEGAS – A judge said Friday she was troubled by a jailhouse recording of a phone call between a fledgling professional boxer arrested in Indiana and a Las Vegas pet shop owner who are together accused of torching a store where firefighters rescued 27 puppies.
Las Vegas Justice of the Peace Janiece Marshall set bail at $310,000 for Kirk Bills, after a prosecutor identified Bills as the man seen on video setting the Jan. 27 fire, and said the phone call sounded like Bills asking co-defendant Gloria Eun Hye Lee if she implicated him.
“Why are they looking for me, girl?” Bills asked Lee, according to a transcript the judge read aloud in court. “They chased me.”
Bills stood silently in shackles in court while prosecutor Shanon Clowers said she believed Bills was asking Lee why she “snitched” on him.
Clowers added that Bills crashed Lee’s vehicle on the way to Crown Point, Ind., where he was arrested on Feb. 7 by a fugitive task force including FBI agents from Chicago.
Defense attorney Roger Bailey said he thought the call reflected Bills’ bewilderment at being sought by authorities.
Bailey also disputed Clowers’ claim that Bills was clearly identified on store security video as the man pouring liquid from gasoline cans around puppy cages while Lee collects files inside her Prince and Princes pet store, and then setting the liquid afire.
“All you can see is a sweatshirt and a hoodie,” Bailey said.
The video hasn’t been made public, but may be shown during Bills’ preliminary hearing March 10 on 31 felony and misdemeanor charges including arson, conspiracy, burglary and attempted animal cruelty.
Bailey spoke outside court with Bills’ wife, whom he said gave birth to a baby daughter on Tuesday, and said it wasn’t clear if Bills could post bail.
Lee also is being held on $310,000 bail. She pleaded not guilty in state court on Monday to the same 31 charges, and a judge scheduled her trial July 7.
Prosecutors have said that if Bills’ case is bound over for trial in state court, the two cases could be merged.