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    Cruelty suspect's bail reduced

    In a case unrelated to his charges on llama abuse, an East Lake teen gets his bail lowered.

    By ED QUIOCO

    © St. Petersburg Times, published April 4, 2001


    A judge Tuesday lowered the bail for Robert B. Pettyjohn II but said that if he is released from jail he cannot return to his parents' home in East Lake.

    Pettyjohn, 18, faces two counts of animal cruelty in the golf-club beating of two pet llamas as well as separate charges that include grand theft and aggravated battery. Tuesday's hearing concerned charges not related to the attack on the llamas.

    At the hearing, Pinellas-Pasco Circuit Judge Richard Luce reduced the bail for Pettyjohn's aggravated battery charge from $20,000 to $7,500, his disposing of stolen property charge from $20,000 to $5,000 and his armed burglary charge from $100,000 to $30,000.

    Luce also prohibited Pettyjohn from staying at his parents' home on Ranch Road if he is released on bail, which totals more than $80,000.

    Pettyjohn would have to stay in an "alternative residence" approved by the court because the alleged victim of the armed burglary lives next door to his parents.

    "I don't think it would be prudent for him to be in that neighborhood," Luce said.

    After Pettyjohn stole power tools from the neighbor's garage in April 1999, he slashed the tires of the family's horse trailer to send "a message to his neighbor," prosecutor Bill Burgess said.

    Pettyjohn was charged with dealing in stolen property after he was accused of trying to pawn items stolen in 1999. In the aggravated battery case, he is charged with jabbing a pen into the neck of an East Lake High School student nearly three years ago and telling the student that the pen was an ice pick, according to investigators.

    Pettyjohn's attorney, Christie Pardo, said she wants the bail set low enough that Pettyjohn can get out of jail and check into a Christian residential drug treatment facility. Last month, Pardo succeeded in getting bail on three other charges lowered to $10,000 each.

    "His family has always acknowledged that his contacts with law enforcement has been as a result of his drug problem," Pardo said after the hearing. "Our desire is to see him get some help."

    But during the hearing Burgess said there is no proof that Pettyjohn was addicted to drugs.

    "He does not have a drug problem," Burgess said. "He has a theft problem."

    Burgess also said that Pettyjohn has a violent nature and does not need an excuse to "get violent with people and animals."

    Pettyjohn and his friend, 17-year-old Brandon R. Eldred of East Lake also face animal cruelty charges and trespassing charges in a Feb. 11 attack on two pet llamas on Ranch Road, about a half-mile from where Pettyjohn's parents live. A 3-month-old llama's eye was gouged, and an adult llama was sodomized with a blunt object and later died. Eldred and Pettyjohn also face Hillsborough County charges that they killed a bull and wounded another in January.

    Pettyjohn also faces a burglary of a business charge, two counts of grand theft and a grand theft auto charge. Eldred has been charged with felony armed trespass and felony cruelty to animals in the slashing of a third llama with a titanium meat cleaver on Jan. 30.

    - Staff writer Ed Quioco can be reached at (727) 445-4183 or quioco@sptimes.com.

    PREVIOUS COVERAGE:

    Llama case defendant eligible for aid (March 17, 2001)

    Llama case defendant eligible for public aid (March 16, 2001)

    More trouble for teen in animal attacks (March 8, 2001)

    Adults attempt to deal with cruelty of teens (March 7, 2001)

    Animal cruelty case expands (March 2, 2001)

    Well-known lawyer defends teen in llama case (February 21, 2001)

    Suspect in llama beatings to be charged as adult (February 20, 2001)

    Injured llama returns to shaken home (February 18, 2001)

    Suspect in llama attack faces new charge (February 15, 2001)

    Llama attack shakes idyllic neighborhood (February 14, 2001)

    Second person arrested in llama beatings (February 13, 2001)

    2 llamas beaten; teenager charged (February 12, 2001)

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