BILLINGS — Bail was set Friday at $125,000 for Michael James Bigelow, the Billings man accused of killing and starving more than a dozen dogs.
Bigelow, 34 years old, appeared for arraignment in Yellowstone County District Court by video from the county jail and pleaded not guilty to four felony counts of aggravated animal cruelty, seven misdemeanor counts of cruelty to animals, and two alternative counts of cruelty to animals.
Judge Ashley Harada set the high bond amount after hearing a prosecutor describe the case against Bigelow as "egregious" and provide details of how some of the dogs were shot and left to die.
Bond was initially set for Bigelow in Yellowstone County Justice Court at $50,000. A public defender asked Friday for a lower amount of $5,000, telling the judge that Bigelow wouldn't be able to post that amount and that the man is a lifelong resident of Billings whose employment history is exclusive to working on the family ranch.
Deputy County Attorney Ingrid Rosenquist said Bigelow has an extensive criminal record that includes multiple misdemeanor convictions, including two DUIs and a violent felony charge involving a firearm that was reduced to a misdemeanor.
At the time of his arrest, an arrest warrant had been issued for Bigelow for failing to appear on a recent charge of aggravated DUI, Rosenquist said.
In setting the bond, Harada said she had "serious concerns" about the case. The judge also ordered Bigelow to have no contact with his mother, who owns the property where the abused dogs and other animals were found.