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Charges are filed in death of poodle

Courtney D. Beard, a teacher at E. Russell Hicks Middle School, was charged Wednesday in connection with the June poisoning of d

Courtney D. Beard, a teacher at E. Russell Hicks Middle School, was charged Wednesday in connection with the June poisoning of d

August 12, 2004|by BRIAN SHAPPELL

shappell@herald-mail.com

A teacher at E. Russell Hicks Middle School has been charged with poisoning two dogs, one of which died, according to the Washington County Sheriff's Department and court records.

Courtney D. Beard, 59, of 20401 Chuck Lane east of Hagerstown, was charged with one felony count of animal cruelty-mutilate animal, two misdemeanor counts of malicious destruction of property less than $500 and one misdemeanor count of animal cruelty-leave poison/ground glass, the sheriff's department said in a prepared release Wednesday.

He is accused of exposing to poison Eric and Shawn Rosenthal's dogs, Charlie, a miniature poodle, and Nicole, a collie-spaniel mix, between June 27 and June 28, according to court documents.

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Beard could not be reached by telephone for comment Wednesday evening.

Beard's summons was delivered to his attorney, John Salvatore, Wednesday morning, according to court records.

Deputy Christina McAllister alleged in charging documents dated Tuesday that Beard intentionally killed Charlie and injured Nicole by exposing the animals to poison at the Rosenthal residence at 20332 Ayoub Lane in Black Rock Estates.

Charlie died July 6 as a result of poisoning by ethylene glycol, the main component in green antifreeze, records contend. Green animal fat was found in the Rosenthals' back yard, records state.

Urine tests conducted on Charlie and Nicole revealed that calcium oxylate crystals were in the dogs' systems, but Nicole made a full recovery after immediate treatment, according to records. Calcium oxylate crystals are consistent with ethylene glycol poisoning, records state.

Neighbors said Beard had in the past yelled at or threatened dogs, including Charlie and Nicole, records state.

Washington County State's Attorney Charles Strong and Deputy State's Attorney Joe Michael told Sheriff's Department Investigator Greg Alton on July 20 that Beard should be charged "based on Beard's outbursts regarding the Rosenthals' dog on the evening prior to the poisoning, the fact that Beard has threatened to kill the Rosenthals' dogs in the past, and the fact that Beard had easy access to where the poison was placed...," records state.

Beard denied any involvement in the poisoning when questioned by investigators, records state.

According to separate court documents dated July 28, Carolyn Moser Smith, of 20342 Ayoub Lane, filed a complaint against Beard alleging he "began a verbal tirade against barking dogs" at the Rosenthal residence that lasted for 30 minutes. She alleged the tirade included threats and vulgar language.

Beard was scheduled for a Sept. 30 appearance in Washington County District Court on charges of disorderly conduct and disturbing the peace in connection with Smith's complaint, according to the documents.

E. Russell Hicks Middle School Principal Roger Stenersen said he was unaware of the charges against Beard, a science teacher at the school.

Stenersen said he expects to speak with Washington County Board of Education Schools Superintendent Elizabeth Morgan about the matter.

Morgan could not be reached for comment Wednesday evening.

Antifreeze poisoning resulting in the deaths of dogs and cats is not uncommon, Paul Miller, executive director of the Humane Society of Washington County, said last month.

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