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Shop owner pleads not guilty in puppy arson case

Puppiesarson.jpg

Feb. 21, 2014: Kirk Bills, 27, left, appears in court during his arrest warrant hearing at the Regional Justice Center in Las Vegas. (AP/Las Vegas Review-Journal)

A pet shop owner pleaded not guilty Monday to torching her Las Vegas business, where firefighters rescued 27 puppies.

Gloria Eun Hye Lee, 35, entered her plea in state court after she was indicted Feb. 14 on 31 felony and misdemeanor charges of arson, conspiracy, burglary and attempted animal cruelty.

Clark County District Court Judge David Barker scheduled her trial for July 7.

Lee's attorneys, Tom Pitaro and Ozzie Fumo, said outside court that they plan to challenge the indictment and seek a reduction of Lee's $310,000 bail.

In another courtroom, a judge scheduled a bail hearing Thursday and a preliminary hearing March 10 for co-defendant Kirk Bills.

Bills, 27, was arrested Feb. 7 in his hometown of Crown Point, Ind., and returned to Las Vegas where he's being held at the Clark County jail. He hasn't been asked to enter a plea.

Prosecutor Shanon Clowers has said profit appeared to be the motive for the Jan. 27 fire that damaged Lee's Prince and Princess pet store and an adjacent business in a strip mall southwest of the Las Vegas Strip.

Court documents say Bills is seen on video pouring liquid from gasoline cans and igniting it while Lee collects files and leaves.

Bills and his defense attorney, Roger Bailey, have been notified that his case may be taken to a grand jury, Clowers told Las Vegas Justice of the Peace Janiece Marshall.

That would be a step toward consolidating the cases against Bills and Lee.

Fire officials credited sprinklers with dousing flames at the shop until firefighters arrived and rescued all the puppies from their cages.

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