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Tag: plea

Baltimore cop who slit dogs throat was being heroic, his attorneys say

bolger

Lawyers for a Baltimore police officer who slit the throat of a sharpei on a city street in June tried to put a new spin on his actions in court last week, entering a not guilty plea and suggesting Officer Jeffrey Bolger was heroically trying to save the unborn child of the pregnant woman the dog had bitten.

Fortunately, the judge didn’t immediately buy it, and declined a request from defense lawyers to dismiss the animal cruelty charges filed against Bolger.

The pregnant woman, meanwhile, is calling bullshit.

“Don’t try and make yourself a hero when you made a grave mistake,” she said in a a radio interview last week, after Bolger’s initial court appearance. “Try and say I’m sorry.”

In court on Thursday, lawyers for the 22-year veteran of the police force said Bolger was “legally authorized” to kill the dog, named Nala, and that he was acting to protect the unborn child of a woman the dog had bitten.

He entered a not guilty plea to two counts of animal mutilation, one count of animal cruelty and one count of misconduct in office. Both Bolger, 49, and a second officer, who held Nala while Bolger slit her throat, have been suspended.

His attorney’s reasoning went like this: Had the dog escaped from police, the woman would have had to undergo a series of rabies shots, putting her baby at risk. Due to that, and the dangers the attorney said the dog posed to citizens nearby, Bolger made the decision to “euthanize” Nala in the safest manner possible.

“Bolger considered using his firearm, but he determined that there was too much danger of a ricochet bullet injuring bystanders,” his lawyers said. “Instead, he used his knife in a fashion intended to cause the dog the least amount of pain and place the public in the least amount of danger.”

What’s underplayed in attorney’s brief is that, when that decision was made, the dog had already been subdued with a catch pole.

The attorneys said Bolger and other officers struggled with the dog for more than an hour, the Baltimore Sun reported.

And they said Bolger didn’t say “I’m going to gut this (expletive) thing,” as some witnesses reported. Instead, they submit, he said he was going to have to “cut” the dog because of the lack of other available options.

Among those who found the attorney’s statements ludicrous was Sandy Fleischer, the pregnant woman who was trying to help the dog and keep police from harming her. She spoke out after the incident — and she did so again after Bolger’s hearing.

“To say that you were helping me and trying to save my life? I was there to help the dog,” Sandy Fleischer said. “I can’t believe they are using me for the defense.”

In an interview Thursday on WBAL Radio’s C4 Show, Fleischer said she was upset that the fact she was pregnant — something she confided only to the paramedic treating her — had made its way to police and into the courtroom.

Fleischer was nipped by the dog as she tried to get a look at her collar, so she could get in touch with the dog’s owner.

When she first recounted the incident on the radio show, months ago, Fleischer said the officers who first arrived on the scene used sticks to try and corral the dog, which only served to intensify the situation. She said officers calling the dog a pit bull.

She said police had her ushered to the ambulance “because they didn’t want me seeing the dog being killed.”

A second officer, Thomas Schmidt, 53, is accused of holding the dog down while Bolger cut her throat and is scheduled to appear in court later this month.

The judge, while declining to immediately grant the request for a dismissal requested by Bolger’s attorneys, didn’t rule out further arguments and consideration of the motion.

Bolger’s trial date is scheduled for Nov. 7.

(Photo: Ian Duncan / Baltimore Sun)

Son pleads guilty in Oregon murder-for-hire case in which dog was the target

David James Walkoski.jpgDerek James Walkoski.jpgAn Oregon City man pleaded guilty to shooting a dog that belonged to his father’s neighbor.

Police say the father paid for the hit.

For his involvement in what authorities described as a murder-for-hire, Derek James Walkoski, 31, will spend 28 months in prison for shooting and killing Paws, a black Lab that lived next door to his father in Canby.

In a hearing in Clackamas County, Walkoski told Circuit Judge Robert R. Selander that he shot the dog with a rifle, the Oregonian reported.

“You just shot him?” Selander asked.

“Yes,” Walkoski said.

“Any reason?” Selander asked. “Any justifiable reason?”

“No, your honor,” Walkoski said.

Walkoski pleaded guilty to first-degree aggravated animal abuse. He also pleaded guilty to being a convicted felon in possession of a firearm and recklessly endangering another.

Paws’ owner, sitting in the back row of the courtroom gallery, did not address the court.

Walkoski’s father, David James Walkoski, 61, whose trial is set for June 18, hasn’t admitted to any involvement in the killing of Paws.  But he was arrested during the court hearing when prosecutors informed the judge he, while free on bail, pointed his finger at Paws’ owners and simulated firing a pistol – despite an existing no-contact order issued by the court. He was charged with contempt of court and booked into the Clackamas County Jail, with bail set at $50,000.

According to police reports, the Walkoskis’ neighbor returned to his home in April 2012  to find his dog dead. Police said the father paid his son to kill the animal, but did not offer a motive for the shooting.

(Photos: David James Walkoski (left) and his son, Derek James Walkoski)

Patrick’s owner enters not guilty plea


A not guilty plea was entered Friday on behalf of Kisha Curtis, the Newark woman accused of animal cruelty charges stemming from the discovery of a dog who’d been tossed down a trash chute and left to die in a garbage bin.

The 1-year-old pit bull, whose rescuers named him Patrick, continues to recover at an area animal hospital.

Public defender Regina Lynch entered the plea in Superior Court in Newark on behalf of Curtis, 27, the Newark Star-Ledger reported. She appeared at the hearing via a video hookup from the Essex County Jail.

Curtis faces two counts of tormenting and torturing a living creature by failing to provide sustenance and two counts of abandonment, said Assistant Essex County Prosecutor Cheryl Cucinello.

After the hearing, Kisha’s mother, Tammie Curtis, said her daughter didn’t discard the dog, but only left him tethered at the high-rise Garden Spires apartments in Newark — while she went on a trip to Albany. She implied that the dog was stolen.

“Anybody would take that dog,” the mother said. “If she tied the dog, she didn’t leave the dog to die.”

A security guard at the 520-unit complex told the Star-Ledger that the dog had been seen tied to a railing with a leather leash, and had been the subject of resident complaints for more than a month.

“It would whimper, and it would yelp when you would come up to it,” Ortman said.

A custodian found Patrick on March 16, inside a trash bag at the bottom of a 22-story garbage chute.

Judge Amilkar Velez-Lopez kept Curtis’ bail at $10,000 bond or $1,000 cash and forbid her to have contact with pets. If convicted, she faces 18 months in prison, a $3,000 fine and community service.

Patrick has been recovering at Garden State Veterinary Specialists in Tinton Falls, where he has gained two pounds since being found.

Romero pleads guilty in dog’s dragging death

Steven Romero pleaded guilty Thursday to a federal charge of aggravated animal cruelty in connection with the death of Buddy, a stolen German shepherd mix who was dragged to his death behind a pickup truck in the Colorado National Monument.

While the charge carries a maximum sentence of up to three years in prison and a $100,000 fine, it was expected that prosecutors would offer a reduced sentence in exchange for his guilty plea.

Buddy was found dead on Dec. 30. Romero is accused of putting a rope around the dog’s neck and driving until the dog was dead.

Romero, 38, will remain in custody until his sentencing, scheduled for July 30, according to 9News.

“It’s a good day for animal lovers and I’m happy to see this happen. It was the right thing for him to do to accept responsibility,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Michelle Meyer said.

Prosecutors say Romero’s sister, 32-year-old Melissa Lockhart, stole the pup from a pickup truck in Fruita and told him to “get rid” of it. Lockhart faces a felony charge for lying to investigators. She will appear in court on May 10 in Grand Junction.

A Facebook page was created in the wake of Buddy’s death. It is called “Demand Justice for Buddy” and has more than 260,000 members around the world.

Maryland man pleads guilty to throwing teacup Chihuahua off bridge

A man who threw a four-pound teacup Chihuahua named Zoey off a bridge in Maryland has entered a guilty plea, avoiding a trial scheduled to begin this week.

David Michael Beers, 35, of Brunswick , faces a maximum of 4 1/2 years in prison — three years for animal cruelty and 18 months for theft of the dog.

Judge G. Edward Dwyer Jr. has scheduled sentencing for June 7, giving him time to review a psychological evaluation of Beers. At that time, he will hear from Zoey’s owner, the Frederick News-Post reported.

During a hearing yesterday in Frederick County Circuit Court, Assistant State’s Attorney Colleen K. Swanson said she will seek some priosn time for Beers, to be followed by three years of probation. Swanson also wants Beers to complete an anger management program.

Beers was scheduled to go on trial today, but he instead entered a guilty plea.

Beers told investigators he got angry when the dog’s owners ordered him off their property, on which he had stopped in his car to use his cell phone. He left, but came back later and grabbed the dog, throwing it over a Catoctin Creek bridge as he drove home. The dog was never found.

Plea agreement reached in Buddy case

romero1Federal prosecutors have struck a plea agreement with Steven Clay Romero, the Colorado man accused of dragging a stolen dog to his death at Colorado National Monument.

Romero faced a maximum of three years in federal prison for allegedly tying Buddy, a German shepherd mix, to the back of his pickup truck in the predawn hours of Dec. 30, 2009, and dragging him several miles.

Romero, 38, of Grand Junction, is expected to plead guilty to aggravated cruelty to animals, the lone count lodged against him by a federal grand jury earlier this year, according to court filings. The terms of the plea agreement aren’t yet known, the Grand Junction Sentinel reported.

Romero’s sister, Melissa Lockhart, 32, still faces state charges for allegedly stealing Buddy and another dog from the back of a pickup truck in downtown Delta on Dec. 29.

Lockhart  told her brother to “get rid” of the dog after it had attacked a family cat, according to an arrest affidavit.

As of Friday afternoon, Romero, who had entered a not guilty plea, was in custody in the Mesa County Jail without bond. He is scheduled to appear in court Tuesday on drug charges in connection with another case.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Michelle Heldmyer has said she would pursue a stiff penalty in the case, which brought international attention to Grand Junction. “This isn’t just the United States of America v. Romero,” Heldmyer told a judge in January. “This is the world v. Romero.”

(For our previous posts on Buddy, click here.)

Dog taping trial scheduled for next month

abbytoll_t200Abby Toll, the former University of Colorado student accused of taping her boyfriend’s dog to a refrigerator, did not have an “impaired mental condition” at the time that would excuse her behavior, a state mental health doctor says.

Toll, 20, has entered a not guilty plea, claiming she suffered from an impaired mental condition as a result of being an “ongoing victim of domestic violence.”

Her case goes to trial April 12, according to the Boulder Daily Camera. The doctor’s conclusion came in a pre-trial report.

Toll, who now lives in Chicago and is no longer enrolled at the university, is accused of binding her boyfriend’s 2-year-old shiba inu, Rex, in hair bands and packing tape and sticking him upside-down to a refrigerator during a fight.

Her boyfriend, Bryan Beck, also was charged with misdemeanor animal cruelty. In exchange for a guilty plea, he was given a one-year deferred sentence and 50 hours of community service.

The dog has since been adopted by another family.