Dog slaying trial delayed after defense attorney's motion fails

June 08, 2005|by CANDICE BOSELY

MARTINSBURG, W.VA. - The trial for a man charged with killing his dog by tying it to a set of railroad tracks got off to a slow start Tuesday, after a question arose of whether the man asked for an attorney before agreeing to give police a statement.

Richard William Faircloth, 30, of 509 S. Spring St., Martinsburg, is charged with one felony count of animal cruelty. He is charged with tying his dog, Kujo, to a set of railroad tracks in Martinsburg on Oct. 14, 2004. The dog, a 2-year-old German shepherd/pit bull mix, was killed after its jaw was cut off by a passing train, police have said.

A pool of about 45 jurors was in the courtroom Tuesday when, just before 9 a.m., Faircloth's attorney asked that a statement his client gave to police on Oct. 18, 2004, be ruled as inadmissible.


Attorney David Camilletti said he realized Monday that Faircloth had requested an attorney before being questioned by police.

After hearing from Camilletti, the potential jurors were sent home.

At 3 p.m., the investigating officer in the case, Cpl. Ron Gardner of the Berkeley County Sheriff's Department, was called to testify about the statement.

Gardner said he arrested Faircloth at his home, drove him to the sheriff's department and started reading aloud Faircloth's rights. After hearing that he had the right to an attorney, Faircloth asked for one, Gardner testified.

Gardner asked that he be allowed to finish reading Faircloth's Miranda rights, and then told him that if he chose to answer questions, he could cease talking at any time, Gardner testified.

Gardner said Faircloth asked whether that meant he could answer some questions, but not others. Told that was the case, Faircloth agreed to speak to Gardner and signed his name three times on paperwork that indicated he understood his rights and waived his right to have an attorney present, Gardner said.

Faircloth was not asked a single question about the dog's death until after he signed the forms, Assistant Prosecutor Betsy Giggenbach stressed to the judge.

She also complimented Gardner for his thoroughness in making sure Faircloth understood all of his rights.

Testifying in his defense, Faircloth agreed that the signatures on the paperwork were his, but said he did not read the forms and that Gardner did not fully explain his rights. Faircloth testified that he simply signed forms that Gardner told him to sign.

After reviewing the evidence privately in his chambers, Circuit Judge David Sanders said his ruling rested on the credibility of Gardner and Faircloth.

Sanders said he accepted the testimony of the officer over Faircloth, and ruled that the statement can be used at trial. In the statement, Faircloth told police he killed the dog because it had growled at his children, police have said.

The same panel of potential jurors is to report again to the courthouse today at 1 p.m. for jury selection. The trial is expected to last two days.

If convicted, Faircloth faces a sentence of one to three years in prison.

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