Monday, March 18, 2013
A man who admits he killed two dogs and nearly killed another last year by tying them up and throwing them in a canal has been sentenced to 10 years in prison.
Bobby Joe McConnell, 47, of Georgetown, entered guilty pleas to two counts of ill treatment of animals in the July 2012 incidents.
On July 2, McConnell tried to kill a black Lab by taping her mouth and legs and tossing her into the International Paper canal. Fortunately, people fishing in the canal heard her in the water and called for help.
That dog, named Dara by the St. Frances Animal Center, survived. On Monday, Judge Larry Hyman awarded to dog to the center, where she has been staying since the rescue.
On July 5, two other dogs were found dead in the canal. They had been taped in the same manner.
“I have said I was guilty since day one,” McConnell told the judge.
Hyman called McConnell’s actions “the product of an evil heart.”
The judge, before issuing his sentence, lectured McConnell, noting that McConnell’s attorney — Ronald Hazard — described his client as a good man.
“He says you are a good man. I don’t know. I have never [heard of] such a callous act or a more brutal act,” the judge said. “I can imagine those dogs flopping around trying to swim. I do not know what those animals did to you to make you think that was appropriate. What would you do to a person who offended you?”
The dogs belonged to McConnell’s mother-in-law and his daughter. His attorney said he had been taking Xanax, Percocet and had been drinking alcohol when the crimes occurred.
Hazard said McConnell killed the dogs because they would get out of their pen and attack a neighbor who was cutting grass in the McConnells’ yard.
He said McConnell borrowed the duct tape that was used to bind the dogs.
Wendy Goude, director of Saint Frances, spoke on behalf of the organization during the hearing.
She described it as “heartbreaking” when she and her staff removed the tape from Dara’s mouth and legs.
“The dogs did not deserve this,” she said.
Hyman sentenced McConnell to 5 years on each charge and the sentences will run consecutive. That was the maximum sentence allowed for the charges.
He must also pay $10,000 in fines. St. Frances will receive half of that amount plus more than $1,800 the organization has spent taking care of Dara.
After the hearing Brad Floyd, chairman of the St. Frances board of directors, said the board will discuss what to do with the reward money when they hold their next meeting.
By Scott Harper