May 17, 2013 in City

Monkey killer gets prison, treatment

Todd Dvorak Associated Press

BOISE – An Idaho man convicted of breaking into a Boise zoo last fall and brutally beating to death one of two Patas monkeys has been ordered to spend up to a year in a treatment program at a state prison.

Michael Watkins, 22, of Weiser, was sentenced Thursday for his role in the Nov. 17 crime that caused shock and outrage in Idaho’s capital city and beyond.

Watkins pleaded guilty in March to felony attempted grand theft for illegally entering the zoo, built in a city park a few blocks from the downtown, and animal cruelty, a misdemeanor under state law.

Fourth District Judge Lynn G. Norton rejected defense attorney requests that Watkins deserved probation and would be punished in a way for the shame of being “forever known as the man who killed the monkey at Zoo Boise.”

Instead, Norton said she wanted a punishment that fits the crime but allows the young father of a 7-month-old son to turn his life around.

Norton sentenced him to seven years in prison for the grand theft, making the first two years fixed, and the maximum six months for animal cruelty. Norton opted to send Watkins to a state prison facility focused on intense treatment programs but will review progress upon his release to determine whether to send him to prison or set probation conditions. The type of treatment Watkins will undergo will be determined in the coming weeks by prison officials, but the judge recommended substance and grief treatment.

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