Prosecutor: Watkins tried to steal monkey

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by Associated Press & KTVB

NWCN.com

Posted on November 21, 2012 at 2:53 PM

Updated Thursday, Dec 5 at 12:17 PM

BOISE -- Prosecutors say the man accused of killing a monkey at Zoo Boise hoped to steal the animal, but he was bitten and then he clubbed it to death with a tree branch.

But in court Wednesday, Michael Watkins told a different story, saying the monkey attacked him and he simply defended himself.

Since this story broke Saturday, people from all over the country have wanted answers. They've wanted to know what happened at Zoo Boise that left a patas monkey dead. On Wednesday, we started getting those answers.

Prosecutors say Watkins actually wanted the monkey, and in the process of trying to take the animal, it fought back, resulting in its death.

"Earlier that day, Mr. Watkins learned that his grandmother had a diagnosis of cancer," said Gary Reedy, the public defender representing Watkins.

It was for that reason that Reedy says Watkins' brother and some friends took him out drinking Friday night. Reedy says they wandered around Julia Davis Park before going into Zoo Boise. At this point it’s unclear how they got into the zoo.

They ended up at the primate exhibit.

"They opened up the door, the monkey was released,” said Reedy. “They tried to get it back, at least in the enclosure, which wasn't working well. The monkey eventually attacked Mr. Watkins.”

Reedy says there was a “scuffle.” The monkey was injured in that fight and eventually died.

But prosecutors have a different version of what happened. Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Fafa Alidjani says Watkins broke into the primate exhibit by "manipulating a lock." He then took the monkey into his jacket and carried it to the zoo's exterior fence.

Alidjani says Watkins wanted the monkey. He tried to throw the 30-pound animal over the fence, but couldn't. The monkey then fought back, biting Watkins at least once.

Alidjani says Watkins then grabbed a tree branch and began hitting the monkey in the head. The monkey later died from those injuries.

Watkins defense, at least in the bond argument today, didn't deny that he was in the zoo, which relates to his burglary charge.

It's the grand theft charge they appear to be fighting, saying the monkey attacked Watkins as he wandered around the zoo.

Right now, Watkins faces the two felony charges - burglary and grand theft. Alidjani says animal cruelty charges could still come, and most likely will. If they do, that will happen when he's back in court on Dec. 5.

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