Man is acquitted in dog killing
The repairman says he felt threatened by a tenant's pit bull
BY OSITA IROEGBU
TIMES-DISPATCH STAFF WRITER Jul 26, 2005
PETERSBURG -- A Hopewell man testified yesterday that he shot and killed a 3-year-old red-nosed pit bull because he felt his life was in danger.
"I was afraid to death," Gerald Dupree said during his trial yesterday on misdemeanor charges of animal cruelty and discharge of a firearm in public.
"It seemed worse than when I was in combat," the Army veteran said of the confrontation.
Judge Lucretia A. Carrico of Petersburg General District Court found Dupree not guilty on both charges and said Dupree's perception that he was in danger was reasonable and that he acted in self-defense.
Ken Blaylock, assistant commonwealth's attorney in Petersburg, questioned whether "there were other things [Dupree] could have done that would have been more reasonable" than shooting the dog.
According to testimony, Anna Wallace, the dog's owner, called her landlord, Drucker and Faulk, on May 27 to have her air conditioner fixed.Minutes later, Dupree, a maintenance supervisor
, arrived at Wallace's home on St. Mark Street in Petersburg to work on the air conditioner.
Dupree testified that as he walked to the backyard to begin work, he "noticed two pit bulls and hesitated." Both dogs were chained and barking, he said.
Dupree then walked back to his truck to retrieve his tools and also brought his gun.
"It was like a second thought to take the pistol with me," Dupree said. "I wasn't expecting anything to happen."
According to Dupree, the pit bull, named Diamond, somehow got free of her chain and was running toward him as he knelt down. Dupree said he jumped up, grabbed the pistol and fired.
Diamond turned and ran about 15 to 20 feet in the opposite direction before she headed toward Dupree again. Dupree shot a second time.
Dupree said he didn't have time to run and tell someone about the dog because she "was too quick."
Wallace, who was in her home with her baby, saw Diamond lying on the ground from her window after she heard the gunshots. She walked outside where Dupree displayed his gun and a concealed-weapon permit in his hands, unloaded the gun, apologized for shooting her dog and continued working on the air conditioner.
Blaylock argued that Dupree didn't know if the dog was being playful when it ran toward him and that Dupree may have been "oversensitive to the dog" because he had been bitten before by another dog.
Wallace, who said she believes Dupree could have told her he was uncomfortable around her dogs instead of getting his gun, testified that Diamond was friendly and energetic and had never attacked anyone.
Henry Otis Brown, Dupree's attorney, said Dupree saw the dog as a "clear and present danger. So he shot the dog to save himself."