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Monday, December 31, 2007

Dog Murder in Boise, Part II

Eyewitnesses, however, tell a different account. The electrician says there was no fight. It was just two dogs greeting, and the Springer was yelping because she didn't want any part of Bailey. The electrician also testified that Bailey and his owner were definitely turned toward home and the altercation was over when Murphy plugged the dog from behind.

A neighbor heard the commotion and came out just as Murphy shot the dog. She didn't see clearly what had happened, but she did testify that Murphy had acted "strangely" right after, and that all he said to her was, "Did you see what happened?" No apology, no emotion, no offer to assist with Bailey.

Fergie, the Springer, didn't have a scratch on her. There were no bite marks, no lacerations, no blood or swelling...nothing to indicate fight of any kind had occurred.. In fact, she was playing fetch with her owner in the yard while they were waiting for the police to arrive after the shooting.

How would YOU react if a strange dog ran up to you while you were walking your own dog down the street? What would you do first? Yell at the dog? Kick at it? Swat it? Throw something at it? Pick up your own dog? You would do one or all of these things before you would consider pulling a gun and shooting the dog, assuming you were even carrying a firearm.

But Bruce Murphy did none of these things. He said nothing. He didn't kick or swat at Bailey. He made a feeble attempt to pick Bailey up by his collar and pull him away from Fergie. But that's it. His actions, or lack of, are recorded in his own deposition.

Sarah's attorney found the best witnesses possible. She hired a forensics expert to study the bullet trajectory. She had aerial photos taken of the scene of the incident. She presented photos of blood and feces in the street, which proved Bailey's position (facing home) when he was shot. She had many experts--trainers, behaviorists, veterinarians--testifying that Bailey was NOT dog-aggressive, and explaining that what Bailey did was natural, normal dog behavior. There was no physical evidence indicating a dog attack. It appeared, from "our side," that Murphy's use of lethal force was totally and horrendously inappropriate, and was not what a reasonable person would do in that situation.

The trial lasted eight days. Since I was an expert witness, I was privileged to sit in on a great deal of it and hear the examinations, cross-exams and redirects. Murphy's defense attorney was floundering. It seemed his only hope was to make Sarah sound like a nut case, and to discredit the reputation of the electrician eyewitness. I felt he was probably alienating members of the jury by doing so.

Unfortunately, I had to leave Boise before the defense attorney started calling in his own witnesses. But I was so totally convinced by the compelling testimony I'd heard thus far, that I was sure the jury had already made up its mind in favor of Sarah.

Months before, Sarah's attorney had confessed to me that it would be difficult to win the case, even with overwhelming evidence that Murphy was wrong. Why? Because Boise is a conservative area, and the concept of protecting one's personal property is so strong. I don't have any problem with that. But as a gun owner, I also cringe when I hear of other gun owners doing downright irresponsible things like shooting dogs that don't need to be shot.

The verdict came in on the eighth evening. Sarah's attorney lost the case. The jury ruled 9 to 3 in favor of Murphy, the shooter. They decided he had just cause to shoot Bailey. The defense attorney persuaded the jury that the altercation between the two dogs looked like a deadly fight to Murphy, who was just a lay person and not a trained dog behaviorist. I don't know how they explained why Murphy shot the dog while he was walking HOME with his owner.

What You Can Garner From This:
There are lots of folks out there who will obviously misread your dog's behavior. What you know is friendly may seem threatening to someone else. If you happen to cross the path of someone carrying a grudge that day, there could be deadly or at least hurtful consequences. Like you, Sarah was trying to do her absolute best with her dog, but accidents happen. Dogs break loose. Dogs jerk leashes out of your hands. It's happened to every dog owner, including me.

Be as vigilant as possible to protect your dog from potentially the most dangerous predators of all: people.


Melissa ~ A BumbleBaby Mommy said...

This still floors me! Thanks for the blog Jan! I'm so glad you're posting it!

Monilyn said...

I was very saddened reading the story of the Murdered dog "Bailey".
I think the conservative town and state of Boise needs to have some compassionate people whom will Legislate against this sort of cruel punishment of animals.
Heck, our jails are full of humane people who can think and make choices. Like Mr.Murphey did.
Bailey, was a dog doing what dogs do, sniff,smell And No threat. Mr.Murphey however IS! Packing a gun of a dog walk. Take this to the Supreme Court.