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Keedysville man admits beating puppies to death

October 30, 2003|by GREGORY T. SIMMONS

gregs@herald-mail.com

An 18-year-old Keedysville man charged in September with the bludgeoning deaths of 10 puppies admitted during a Washington County Juvenile Court hearing Wednesday that he killed three of the puppies and their mother.

Because the man was 17 when he was charged, the charges were filed through the Department of Juvenile Services. His name is being withheld because he was charged as a juvenile.

An admission in juvenile court is the equivalent of a guilty plea in adult court.

Assistant Washington County State's Attorney Steven C. Kessell said during the hearing that Washington County Sheriff's deputies were called Sept. 23 to a home on Mansfield Road just before 5 p.m.

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When police arrived, they found the puppies had been beaten to death, and two adult dogs had been shot. One died, and one survived.

Police said the teenager's father told them he believed his son had killed the animals. He said his son had asked earlier to keep one of the dogs, but was told he couldn't have one, Kessell said.

At about noon that day, a neighbor saw the teenager's truck pull into the home, and then saw someone in the kennel beating the dogs with a shovel, Kessell said.

The teenager at first told police he had nothing to do with the animals' deaths, but eventually confessed.

A Department of Juvenile Services case worker, who declined to identify herself to a reporter after the hearing, said the teenager had been placed at the Thomas B. Finan Center state psychiatric hospital in Cumberland, Md., since an Oct. 9 detention hearing.

Doctors there recommended he be allowed to go home, the case worker told Washington County Circuit Judge Donald E. Beachley, who was sitting in juvenile court. The case worker said she agreed with the recommendation.

Kessell, however, told Beachley that "this is a case that presents a number of thorny issues," including the fact that the man's father was the victim. Also, because he said it was not clear whether the teenager would injure other animals, Kessell questioned allowing him to go to his mother's home, which is on a dairy farm.

The teenager's attorney, Assistant Washington County Public Defender Margaret Teahan, said her client's grandmother may have told him to kill the puppies, and said that the mother's live-in boyfriend is the defendant's uncle.

Addressing the man, Beachley said, "I have some empathy for your living situation," which he said was "clearly dysfunctional."

Between now and imposition of sentence, Beachley told the attorneys that "he would be better off, in my judgment, to get as far away as possible from these people. ... He needs to be reprogrammed."

Beachley did not set a date for a sentencing hearing, but scheduled a detention review hearing in two weeks.

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