Noble, Ga. A judge declined to set bail Friday for the operator of a north Georgia crematory where nearly 300 decaying bodies have been discovered.
Magistrate Judge Jerry Day said he would decide in the next few days whether Ray Brent Marsh should be eligible for bail.
Prosecutors argued Marsh should not be released because of the outrage in the community. Walker County Sheriff Steve Wilson said death threats had been called in against Marsh.
Marsh's attorney, Ken Poston, said his client was not a flight risk and had lived in the community all his life. He said concern for Marsh's safety was no reason to deny him freedom.
Poston said Marsh had no intention of leaving town, or going back to his family's crematory, if he is released on bail.
"He's not going anywhere near that property," Poston said.
Marsh, wearing a bulletproof vest, sat quietly during the hearing, occasionally consulting with his attorney. His sister and wife attended but did not speak to reporters. Neither Marsh nor his family members have made any public comment.
Marsh, 28, is charged with 16 counts of theft by deception for allegedly taking payment for cremations he never performed. Wilson told the judge 289 bodies have been found on the Tri-State grounds. At least 54 have been identified.
The sheriff also declined to speak with reporters after the hearing, citing a gag order imposed Thursday by a judge. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, WSB-TV and WSB Radio in Atlanta filed a motion Friday challenging the gag order.