WAHOO – The defendant in a local murder trial was denied a request to return the remains of the dog he is accused of killing along with his fiancé.
Kolton Barnes’ attorney, Matthew McDonald, filed a motion in Saunders County District Court to have the body of Barnes’ dog, Diesel, returned to his family for “proper burial” rather than cremation.
Saunders County District Court Judge Christina Marroquin denied the motion.
The dog was allegedly stabbed by Barnes on July 15 during an incident when Barnes’ also reportedly killed his fiancé, Kayla Matulka, in their Malmo home.
Barnes was charged with first degree murder, as well as cruelty to animals for killing the dog, a black Labrador retriever.
Matulka’s two young children were allegedly in the home at the time of the incident, and Barnes has been charged with two counts of child abuse.
A motion to review Barnes’ bond was also denied by the judge. Marroquin set bond at $5 million on Aug. 18. Barnes’ attorney had filed a motion earlier to reduce the bond to $250,000, which was also denied.
Marroquin said the main reason she wanted the bond to remain at $5 million was there was a possibility that Barnes would commit suicide if released from jail. However, the defense argued that Barnes has been moved into the general population section of the Saunders County jail, which would indicate he is not suicidal.
The prosecution is being handled by an assistant state attorney who has been designated as a special deputy county attorney for the case.
McDonald filed a motion on Sept. 29 to return the remains of the dog, which is being held at the University of Nebraska. The dog’s body was taken there for an evaluation to determine the cause of death. The veterinarian there said the body could be released to the family if authorized by the sheriff. If not, the dog was scheduled to be cremated on Sept. 30.
The defense counsel asked the prosecution to contact Matulka’s family to approve giving the dog to Barnes’ family. The prosecution said they had not received an answer from the victim’s family.
Barnes will be in court for a pretrial hearing for Oct. 19 at 9:30 a.m. in Saunders County District Court. A jury trial is scheduled for Nov. 16 at 9 a.m.
McDonald is a member of the Nebraska Commission on Public Advocacy, an agency that assists counties in providing criminal defense services for indigent defendants, which is mandated by state and federal law, according to the website ncpa.nebraska.gov.
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