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Dog hit with hammer while taking bite out of crime

July 18, 2006|by PEPPER BALLARD

HAGERSTOWN

A chocolate Shar-Pei named Shawna was beaten with a hammer when she intercepted two burglars in her owner's Smithsburg home in late June, but the dog allowed them to take only power tools and a toolbox before marking one of the burglars with a cut, according to court documents.

James Richard Farris III, 21, 15384 Clear Spring Road in Williamsport, and Christopher Lee Nicely, 23, of 6332 Coffman Farms Road in Keedysville, each have been charged with first-degree burglary, conspiracy to commit first-degree burglary, fourth-degree burglary, conspiracy to commit fourth-degree burglary, theft more than $500, conspiracy to commit theft more than $500, two counts of malicious destruction of property worth more than $500 and mutilate animal in connection with the June 26 burglary in the 13800 block of Franks Run Road.

Farris has been charged in connection with three other burglaries in the county in late June, Washington County Sheriff's Department Investigator Greg Alton said. Nicely has been charged in connection with four other burglaries in the county in late June, Alton said.

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Farris was being held at the Washington County Detention Center on $170,000 bond, a jail spokesman said. Nicely was being held at the Washington County Detention Center on $60,000 bond, a jail spokesman said.

Shawna sustained several "full thickness lacerations to the top of her head, chin, the left side of her mouth, and above her left eye," several of which had to be sutured, according to charging documents.

Farris allegedly told Nicely he beat the dog with a hammer during the burglary, according to charging documents. Alton said in charging documents that he noticed a cut on Nicely's hand, which he later had photographed. Investigators found a hammer in the Williamsport house that allegedly had been burglarized by Farris and Nicely on June 28, the date of their arrest, Alton said. Nicely told a deputy that the hammer belonged to him, Alton alleged.

Blood was found throughout the kitchen area of the home and a deputy who responded to the call could not determine whether the blood belonged to the intruders or to the dog, charging documents state.

Investigation revealed that the burglars entered the home by opening an unlocked door that leads from the garage to a breezeway. There, the burglar broke out a window that leads to the kitchen, where they met Shawna, charging documents state.

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