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2nd-degree assault of SPCA officer nets guilty verdict, fine

January 21, 2000|By MARLO BARNHART

Washington County District Court Judge Noel Spence refused to grant probation before judgment Thursday to a man who assaulted an animal control officer who removed his dog from a 100-degree vehicle last summer.

Eric R. Younker, 27, of 15435 Dellinger Road, Williamsport, was found guilty of second-degree assault and fined $100.

The animal control officer "was clearly doing her duty," Spence said of C. Keller Haden's actions on July 17. "Younker deserves the conviction because of his behavior and his history."

Deputy Washington County State's Attorney Charles Strong told Spence that Younker had a prior assault charge which was dropped when he pleaded guilty to fleeing and eluding and reckless driving in a 1995 case.

Strong said that assault involved Younker steering his vehicle toward police officers in an attempt to get away during a chase.

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In that case, he later petitioned successfully for probation before judgment and his criminal record was cleared, Strong said.

In the July incident, Haden was assaulted when she removed Younker's mixed-breed dog from his vehicle in a Wesel Boulevard parking lot, Hagerstown City Police said.

An employee of the Washington County Humane Society, Haden was responding to a complaint in the Martin's Supermarket parking lot at 10:40 a.m. on a hot Saturday morning.

When Haden arrived, she found a dog in a vehicle and she went inside to have the owner paged, but to no avail, police said.

Haden then opened the unlocked door of the vehicle, put the dog in a carrier and as she was placing it in her air-conditioned vehicle, Younker arrived.

Haden told police the man put his hands on her and pushed her and took the dog from her, police said. She was not injured.

When police arrived, they charged Younker and the Humane Society took custody of the dog.

"This grew out of unusual circumstances," said defense attorney Stephen Sacks of Baltimore. "He didn't intend any harm when he left the dog in the car."

In court Thursday, Younker told Spence he was in the wrong, admitting he "got out of hand."

"Not according to your letter in which you told me you shouldn't have been charged with assault," Spence replied, holding up the letter.

When he received the letter, Spence sent a copy to Sacks because he thought Younker wasn't owning up to his responsibility.

"He didn't understand," Sacks said.

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