A Leavenworth man who was found to be in contempt of court last week in an animal cruelty case has been released from jail.

A Leavenworth man who was found to be in contempt of court last week in an animal cruelty case has been released from jail.

Lemuel D. Hunter Jr., 57, was taken into custody March 28 for an outburst during a preliminary hearing. But District Judge Gunnar Sundby ordered the release of Hunter on Thursday because the defendant wrote an apology to the judge and made commitments regarding his behavior in the future.

Hunter is charged with felony animal cruelty for allegedly abusing a dog Feb. 19 in Leavenworth.

He was free on bond March 28 when his preliminary hearing began. During the hearing, Hunter stood up and suggested an officer from the Leavenworth County Jail place him in handcuffs. Hunter said the case was “smoke and mirrors” and complained that Assistant County Attorney Michael Jones had not returned phone messages.

As a result of the outburst, Sundby said Hunter was guilty of contempt and the preliminary hearing was halted.

Hunter appeared in court Thursday with his new attorney, Geoffrey Sonntag. Sonntag said he had been retained earlier in the day to represent Hunter.

Benjamin Casad, who previously had been appointed to represent Hunter, was allowed to withdraw from the case.

Sundby said Thursday that he had received a letter from the defendant.

The letter was filed among court records in the case.

In the letter, Hunter wrote that he sincerely apologized “for my outburst in court and view it as nothing less than a shameful display of unbridled emotion.”

Hunter went on to write, “I promise there will be no further such outburst in the future.”

Sonntag said Thursday that his client acknowledged that he had acted “very inappropriately” and was remorseful.

Sonntag also said that he is representing Hunter on the condition that the defendant does not act out in court in the future.

The attorney asked Sundby to consider releasing Hunter.

Jones, who is prosecuting the case, said Hunter had visited the County Attorney's Office and acted inappropriately prior to last week's hearing.

Sundby said he would prohibit Hunter from contacting the County Attorney's Office in the future as a condition of the defendant's release. Noting that Hunter has legal counsel, Sundby said it was not appropriate for the defendant to personally contact the County Attorney's Office.

Sundby asked Hunter if he agreed to this condition.

“Absolutely sir,” Hunter said.

Sundby said he was releasing Hunter from the earlier finding that he was in contempt. Sundby also said he was lifting any further jail sentence for contempt of court.

The preliminary hearing for the animal cruelty charge was scheduled to resume today. But Sonntag said Thursday that he needed more time to prepare.

The preliminary hearing was continued until May 2.

Twitter: @LVTNewsJohnR