UPDATE: 11 a.m.
Michael Watkins, 22, pleaded not guilty this morning to charges in connection with the November 2012 brutal killing of a Patas monkey at Zoo Boise.
Watkins was told to be prepared to begin his trial on Monday, May 13.
Attorneys claim that Watkins acted in self-defense after the monkey bit him while attempting to take the animal from a zoo enclosure. Police allege Watkins used a fire extinguisher to break into the zoo's primate building. The monkey died of severe blunt force trauma.
ORIGINAL POST: 9 a.m.
Michael Watkins, 22, accused of the Nov. 17 break-in at Zoo Boise and the violent death of a Patas monkey, will return today to an Ada County courtroom, where he's expected to enter a plea.
Watkins, shackled by chains to his hands and feet, last appeared in court on Jan. 17, when he was told of the minimum and maximum prison terms of his charges. The burglary count carries a one-year minimum prison term, and up to 10 years in prison, with a $50,000 fine. Attempting to steal the Patas monkey constitutes felony grand theft and could mean a 14-year maximum sentence and a hefty fine. Watkins was also accused of misdemeanor providing false information to an officer, which carries a $1,000 fine and/or one year in jail.
According to court records, prosecutors allege Watkins jumped a fence at Zoo Boise and manipulated a lock to get inside the primate building and the monkey cage.
An unidentified companion allegedly told authorities that Watkins chased the monkey and tried to throw a coat over the animal. The companion also said that Watkins was bitten by the monkey. The man said he also heard a loud bang shortly before he saw Watkins carrying the monkey in his coat.
A zoo security guard reportedly scared the two men off a short time later, and the monkey was left behind. Zoo officials said the monkey suffered blunt force trauma to the head and died of the injuries shortly thereafter.