May 4, 2009
The Will County State’s Attorney’s Office is deeply concerned about animal abuse cases and prosecutes them as aggressively as it prosecutes every crime. In this case, this office launched a grand jury investigation that took nearly a year to complete and resulted in the felony aggravated cruelty to animal charge against the defendant.
There were a number of hurdles to clear before the felony charge could even be filed. Most notably, the office had to address problems rising from the conduct of an independent but state-sanctioned animal investigator. First of all, the investigator took it upon himself to dig up the dog’s body, which was buried in an easement on private property, without first obtaining a search warrant. Secondly, the investigator gave conflicting accounts about how he retrieved a golf club alleged to have been the weapon used to beat the dog. His irreconcilable statements rendered him virtually useless as a trial witness and might have prevented the state from entering the dog’s body as evidence at a trial. Our prosecutors felt they had resolved these issues sufficiently to pursue the felony charge, but had we lost pretrial challenges on either issue, we likely would have been forced to dismiss the entire case, allowing this defendant to walk completely free.
In the final analysis, the best course was to secure a conviction against the defendant in a plea to the misdemeanor. For the next two years, the defendant cannot be charged with any crime, or this office will seek to revoke his conditional discharge, and he will face a possible sentence of up to a year in jail.
We have discussed this case at length with People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals as well as the Humane Society of the United States. They understand the difficulties in this case. We would gladly have discussed this disposition with The Herald News had we been contacted for this story. The reporter did not bother to call.
Charles B. Pelkie
(815) 530-7110 (cellular)
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