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Kenneth Sartin

In this file photo, Kenneth Sartin attends a hearing at the Twin Falls County Courthouse in Twin Falls.

TWIN FALLS — A man accused of firing a gun near his wife and children will remain jailed on a $1 million bond on multiple felony and misdemeanor counts, a judge ruled June 25.

Kenneth Dwayne Sartin, 41, of Twin Falls, is charged with felony aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, felony malicious injury to property, two misdemeanor counts of injury to a child, and exhibition or use of a deadly weapon for the incident that took place in early March.

He appeared before Judge Benjamin Cluff at the Theron Ward Judicial Building on Tuesday morning for a hearing on a motion to reduce the $1 million bond set at his initial appearance.

Sartin’s public defender, George Essma, used the occasion to protest how bonds are set.

Essma said when the magistrate judge sets bond, public defenders have not had a chance to review police reports and evidence or speak at length with the defendant, while attorneys representing the state have abundant resources to prepare for the hearing.

“I don’t think the argument was fair. I don’t think the argument was right,” Essma said. “I just want to address this inequality.”

Essma said Sartin’s $1 million bond is excessive since anyone who is indigent could never meet such a sum. “It’s the same as being held on no bond.”

While some details of Sartin’s case are both troubling and alarming, Essma said, Cluff should look at the defendant’s character.

Police say Sartin and his wife attended a party at which Sartin became intoxicated. The couple later got in an argument at their home and Sartin fired a gun 10 times with his wife in the same room and his children nearby, court documents say.

Sartin’s actions that night were “out of character,” Essma said.

Twin Falls Deputy Prosecutor Jill Sweesy argued that her office is also under a crunch when preparing for initial hearings. That includes organizing between one and 15 cases within a three hour span, she said.

The public defenders have the exact same access to information, she added, calling Essma’s argument about the state’s ample resources “ludicrous.”

Sweesy noted that the public defender made essentially the same argument for a low bond on Sartin’s behalf at that initial hearing in March before magistrate judge Calvin Campbell.

“We asked for it because a one million dollar bond is appropriate,” Sweesy said. “This is one of those cases that is so egregious” it requires a high bond to protect the victims and the community as a whole, she said.

“We cannot escape the facts of this case,” Sweesy said, explaining how Sartin fired the gun 10 times. “There is no excuse for it.”

Essma countered with a final argument, accusing the state of branding Sartin a bad person, thus requiring a high bond.

Cluff said he follows the accepted standards when setting bonds and that in this case a substantial crime has been alleged and it creates a community safety issue. “A substantial bond is required,” he concluded, denying the motion.

Sartin’s trial date was also rescheduled during the hearing. Sweesy said a key law enforcement witness was unavailable on the original dates, to which Essma objected.

“Mr. Sartin asserts his right to a speedy trial,” Essma said. “He’s not willing to waive that right.”

Sartin’s trial is now set to begin Aug. 21.

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