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Animal cruelty case moves forward

District Judge Mark D. Thomas refused to lower Robert Lynn Tomlin's bail, saying the case is "psychiatrically frightening."

District Judge Mark D. Thomas refused to lower Robert Lynn Tomlin's bail, saying the case is "psychiatrically frightening."

August 11, 2006|by ANDREW SCHOTZ

WASHINGTON COUNTY - A criminal case against a man accused of assaulting his girlfriend and killing her four kittens by throwing them into a fire will proceed, a judge decided Thursday.

Calling the case "psychiatrically frightening," Washington County District Judge Mark D. Thomas ruled that three charges against Robert Lynn Tomlin will move to circuit court for prosecution.

Tomlin, 22, of 10917 Crystal Falls Drive near Smithsburg, is facing one count each of second-degree assault, aggravated cruelty to animals and using a destructive device. The first count is a misdemeanor; the others are felonies.

The charge of using a destructive device carries the greatest maximum penalty: 25 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

After a preliminary hearing, Assistant Washington County State's Attorney Mark Boyer said that at least a dozen people and groups sent the prosecutor's office letters decrying the alleged crime.

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Washington County Sheriff's Department Deputy Ben Jones was the only person to testify at Thursday's hearing.

Jones said he responded to a call at Tomlin's house on July 2 and found Kelli Green, Tomlin's girlfriend at the time, crying, with blood on her and unable to hear in one ear. He said she accused Tomlin of drinking, knocking her down and hitting her in the head.

She also reported that when she left, Tomlin threw her four kittens into a fire in a pit in the yard - although she didn't see him do it, Jones testified.

Jones said he found one dead kitten in the pit and that Green later found the three other dead kittens.

Tomlin also is accused of throwing a propane tank into the fire in an attempt to make it explode, but it didn't, Jones said Green reported seeing Tomlin pull the tank from the fire.

Public defender Andrea Chee-a-tow argued that there was no proof Tomlin threw the tank into the fire, how long the tank was in the fire pit and whether the tank contained anything.

She said no one saw Tomlin throw the kittens in the fire, either. Tomlin, wearing an orange jail jumpsuit, nodded his head vigorously.

Boyer said that when Green asked Tomlin where the week-old kittens were, he said, "They're dead," and walked away.

Chee-a-tow asked Thomas to lower Tomlin's $25,000 bail, but he refused.

"This is a little bit on the psychiatrically frightening side," Thomas said.

Tomlin was being held Thursday evening at the Washington County Detention Center.

The animal cruelty charge carries a maximum sentence of three years in prison and a $5,000 fine. The maximum sentence for the assault charge is 10 years in prison and a $2,500 fine.

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