|Updated: 11/06/2012 3:57 pm
||Published: 11/05/2012 4:58 pm
The Rogers County District Attorney filed a criminal misdemeanor charge in the case of “Jetta,” a black Labrador whose death drew vigorous and widespread public interest.
Gary Gwen Hart pleaded to improper disposal of a carcass and has paid his fines and is out of custody.
The dog’s remains were found on a county road in Winganon on September 1st. The DA says there was wire wrapped around its back legs.
Early reports suggested the dog had been dragged to death on the county road, but a suspect came forward on September 3rd and said he said he put the dog down, ending its suffering. Witnesses confirmed seeing the dog’s carcass at his property on the days in question.
The suspect told investigators he wanted to remove the remains from his property and tied the dog’s hind legs with wire, attached the other end of the wire to the trailer hitch of his vehicle, and dragged the dog’s body down the road. He said he left it in the ditch where it was discovered the next day.
The Rogers County Sheriff’s Office initially filed a report asking for a misdemeanor charge of improper disposal of a carcass, but the DA’s office asked for further investigation.
DA Janice Steidley said an intensive probe involving well over 100 man-hours of work by investigators for three agencies concluded there was never any evidence that the dog had been dragged while she was alive.
The remains of Jetta were recovered and transferred to the OSU veterinary school, where a necropsy was performed. The necropsy report found pellets in the dog’s head, which was in line with the statement of the suspect about putting the dog down.
However, the report said the veterinarian who performed the necropsy was unable to determine the cause of death or whether the dog was dragged before or after death due to the decomposition of the carcass.
Investigators say there were also discrepancies about when the dog was last seen.
Steidley said she filed charges in Rogers County District Court against a Chelsea man alleging improper disposal of a carcass. The charge, a misdemeanor, carries a fine of up to $500 and up to one year in the county jail.
“We appreciate the public’s concern and passion because we take allegations of animal cruelty very seriously,” said Steidley. “We are filing the charges that are backed by the investigation. Now we ask the public to let the legal system work.”
Steidley praised the work of the Rogers County Sheriff’s Office, her investigators, and the OSU Center for Veterinary Health Sciences.
“The investigators followed every lead and double-checked every statement. We are filing the charge that can be justified by the evidence in this case.” Steidley said.
Steidley said after reviewing all the evidence, there was nothing to indicate Jetta’s death was caused by dragging. “We have to have evidence to support any crime we charge a person with. Our burden we must meet is, ‘beyond a reasonable doubt’ and if we don’t have the evidence to support the crime we cannot be successful at trial. The law does not allow for us to file charges based on mere speculation or hunches,” Steidley said.
She reminded the public that any suspect is presumed innocent unless convicted by a court of law.