Haskins go to court over animals

James and Lucinda Haskin were back in the courtroom Monday afternoon in an attempt to maintain ownership of their livestock, which were removed from their property after they were jailed for child neglect. According to Special Judge Jeff Singer, who presided over the hearing, two heifers, one bull, one calf, three goats, 11 chickens and one rooster were seized by the state on Nov. 5, when the arrest of the Haskin couple left the animals without a caretaker. The hearing was held to determine if the couple would be able to provide financial reimbursement to the LeFlore County Sheriff’s Department, which is currently paying the cost for housing and feeding the livestock. James Haskin asked the judge why the animals were taken from their 15-acre pasture that had water and grass citing that they only needed a bale of hay every two weeks to be cared for properly. The couple continually claimed the livestock belonged to the minor children who were taken from their custody.“How am I supposed to take of the animals,” said Lucinda Haskin. “when you locked me up in a jail cell?” Singer's only response was to say that he understood their predicament. James Haskin petitioned the court to consider selling the livestock at auction and giving the proceeds to their minor children. Singer, who addressed the request by stating what the Haskins were asking was outside the scope of his jurisdiction in the case at hand and his only choice was to decide whether or not to set a bond to be paid by the couple to the Sheriff’s Department for the care of the animals. Singer ruled that the couple would have ten days to place a $1,000 bond with the Sheriff’s Department for the care of the animals or face the possibility of forfeiture. James Haskin, who voiced his predicament in making bond due to not being able to access his assets while incarcerated, asked for an extension until he received a check on December 3, to which Singer said no citing it should not be the county's burden to pay for their animals. The couple were given separate court appointed attorneys to represent them in their criminal case after Singer denied James Haskins’ request that he and Lucinda be appointed the same attorney. As the court came to an end, James Haskin made a request to have the couple's $275,000 bonds reduced.“The bond is reasonable for the charges filed against you,” said Singer as he denied their motion for a reduced bond.