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Gazette Staff

Bond for a Billings woman, accused with her brother of trying to persuade a witness to change her story, was reduced from $50,000 to $25,000 on Thursday by District Judge Susan Watters.

Defense attorney James Yellowtail had asked for release without bail, saying Mona Gonzalez, 21, could not afford to post any significant bail. Yellowtail appealed to the judge to consider a letter that Gonzalez had written expressing her remorse.

He said that, what Gonzalez did, she did out of fear and of loyalty to her brother Jesse, 25.

Yellowtail said that Gonzalez was seeking counseling and has three small children at home. She also has prospects of a job, Yellowtail said.

But Deputy County Attorney Kevin Peterson opposed any reduction, arguing that Gonzalez was on probation from Washington State at the time the offense was committed. He said that, given her relationship with her brother, she was better off in jail.

According to court records, Gonzalez and her brother were taped in a phone call on April 4 from the county jail, in which he told her to contact a victim and "tell her that if she backed him, she would have nothing to worry about for the rest of her life and neither would her child."

Jessie Gonzalez was charged the day before with three counts of felony assault with a weapon and one count of felony intimidation. He was ordered held in the county jail on $100,000 bond after pleading not guilty to the charges. Prosecutors said he beat a woman with a gun three times and threatened to kill her.

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