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Plaintiff testifies in civil dog-shooting suit

April 28, 2010|By DON AINES

HAGERSTOWN -- Eric Haberkorn spent five hours on the witness stand Wednesday in Washington County Circuit Court, testifying about years of confrontations and disputes with the neighbor he is suing for intentional infliction of emotional distress and several nuisance claims.

Haberkorn and his wife, Mary; Arthur and Sonja Pereschuk; and James and Renee Rudolph are suing Jeffrey Lynn Hurd, of 11845 Camden Road near Williamsport, alleging threatening behavior from Hurd, as well as noise, dust and other disruptions from business operations on his property and that of his father, John Hurd.

Hurd was convicted last year on criminal charges of shooting the Pereschuks' dog in 2007 and the Rudolphs' dog in 2008, though one conviction was overturned by the Maryland Court of Special Appeals. Haberkorn testified Wednesday that Hurd told him in 2004 or 2005 that he had shot more than 25 dogs that came onto his land.

Haberkorn testified that Hurd said, "I've shot all your animals ... you just don't know it."

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Haberkorn testified that four family pets had been injured by gunfire or poisoned over the years.

On cross-examination by Hurd's attorney, William Wantz, Haberkorn testified that Hurd and his wife returned one lost dog to him.

Haberkorn testified his problems with Hurd date back 20 years to his daughter's fifth birthday, when Hurd's father dumped raw sewage near their home.

Haberkorn testified that he spoke with John Hurd about the dumping and, later that evening, "Jeff Hurd marched down with a shotgun" and threatened to kill him.

Incidents involving Hurd escalated in 2004 or 2005, Haberkorn testified. Hurd began increasing excavating and hauling to and from his property and that of his father, creating dust and noise, he testified.

Another property owner contacted state environmental officials, who came by Haberkorn's property in 2006 to observe activities on the Hurds' properties, Haberkorn testified. This was followed by a confrontation with Hurd as Haberkorn worked on a fence, he testified.

"If I did anything to involve any authorities, I was a dead man," Haberkorn testified Hurd told him.

Haberkorn testified he did not file any complaints to authorities, but did attend a zoning hearing and county planning commission meeting concerning Hurd's business activities in 2007, he testified.

On cross-examination, Wantz produced dozens of e-mails from Haberkorn during that period to state and county agencies and Del. LeRoy Myers requesting assistance in dealing with operations on the Hurds' properties.

"I was trying to get him (Hurd) to comply with the laws," Haberkorn testified.

Wantz also noted that Haberkorn purchased a rental property from Hurd several years ago and produced a thank-you note Haberkorn sent to Hurd for helping fix a septic line.

Today will be the fourth day of testimony. The trial is scheduled to last up to 10 days.

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