Appeal to prosecute under NEW TX. Animal Cruelty Laws-teens despicable act of torturing pup to death

  • by: Anita Solomon
  • recipient: Guadalupe County Attorney Elizabeth Murray-Kolb

Assistant County Attorney Nan Udell
Guadalupe County Attorney
101 East Court Street, Suite 104
Seguin, Texas 78155
Fax 830.379.9491

CC: Ron Quiros
Guadalupe County chief juvenile probation officer

We are very aware of,  and deeply appreciative of the County Attorneys  actions in this case.  Having said that,  I know that all who sign this petition, stand supportive of the job the County Prosecuters office is doing.

Please accept our signatures in the spirit of goodwill with which they are very much intended and we hope, united in compassion as we are, for the best outcome possible.

The case:


Guadalupe County prosecutors are vowing to throw the book at three boys charged with torturing and killing a puppy that had been given to a neighbor's teenage daughter a few months ago.

"I was sickened, all of us were absolutely sickened," said Guadalupe County Attorney Elizabeth Murray-Kolb. "They found the easiest target, a friendly little dog. They were seen petting it."

The boys, ages 12, 14 and 16, took the 5-month-old Pomeranian mix named Tobey on Tuesday to an abandoned house on Glenewinkel Road in Geronimo. What followed was a sadistic scene of torture and mutilation, according to officials at the Sheriff's Department and County Attorney's office.

They said the boys took the dog to the second floor of the house and twice threw it out a window, breaking its legs. Then they used a rope to hang the dog from a tree by its broken hind legs and used a lighter to burn its genitals.

"They got a board with nails sticking out of it and used the dog as a piata," Murray-Kolb said.

Finally, they used a folding pocketknife to decapitate Toby. Murray-Kolb said she did not know if the dog was dead or alive when its head was cut off.  More>

From KSAT News:

SAN ANTONIO -- Guadalupe County authorities arrested a group of teens who they said tortured a dog to death in an abandoned home on Tuesday.   More>

Nan Udell, an assistant co-attorney, says she is very disturbed by this and even more disturbed by the fact that the boys show no remorse whatsoever for the crime they committed.

From The Gazette-Enterprise
Published August 30, 2007

SEGUIN -  Three boys who allegedly hanged, beat to death and then beheaded a loose dog Tuesday evening are being held by Guadalupe County on animal cruelty charges.

Sheriffs Investigator Lt. Kevin Jordan said the boys were taken into custody a little before 9 p.m. Tuesday after Deputy Brian Wahlert was dispatched to Glenewinkel Road at 8:47 p.m. to investigate suspicious activity near an abandoned house.

"When the officer got out there, he found the boys and got to questioning them," Jordan said.

At least one of the juveniles reportedly had blood on his clothing, and when the officer asked questions, he found the answers offered by each didn't add up.

Continued investigation revealed the tortured and mutilated animal. Jordan said Investigator Robert Murphy was called to process the crime scene and collect evidence and statements.

Investigators found the dog had been hanged, beaten to death and then decapitated. In addition, it sustained burns and other major injuries.

Click on "letter" to read petition

A Song for Tobey by Maria Daines

Please NOTE: I am not responsible for any typographical jargon.  It is the fault of The PetitonSite program as it replaces punctuation  with HTML code. 

I've done my best to either eliminate punctuations such as apostrophies where ever I could, but qoutations still return in HTML, as do question marks.  Please do not email me about these errors. 

It is with great trepidation and concern that the heinous act these teens committed will not be prosecuted under the NEW animal cruelty laws since the crime was committed prior to Sept 1.

Belinda Smith, assistant district attorney for Harris County made this statement recently after TX announced its' new Texas Animal Cruelty Statutes.

"Here's how weak the current law is. Now you can take your pet into Memorial Park and beat it in front of everybody, burn it with a cigarette, and there's nothing I can do. The only thing the current law says rises to cruelty is torture, and the law doesn't define what torture is. It's hard to prove something that isn't defined.

"That's changing. The new law defines what cruelty is and makes it easier for me to drag an abuser in front of a grand jury and get an indictment. The usual loopholes, like the abuser 'forgot' to leave food for his dog when he went on a two-week vacation, are closed. We're going to get more indictments and we're going to get more convictions."

(You can read excerpts of the current laws (prior to Sept 1, 2007) below this petition request)

We the undersigned, support a complete psychological evaluation and psychiatric therapy intervention for these boys.  In addition, we suggest placement in a Juvenile Detention facility until they reach 18 years of age; at which time, each child is re-evaluated and continues to serve time in adult jail if uncertainty of their character prevails.

Probation and or release into society should not be considered prior to their 18th birthday and have completed intense counseling, nor do we support or approve of such a decision based on the horrifying nature of the crime committed.

These teens, without the proper intervention of counseling and reprimand, will most certainly become criminals who will think nothing of inflicting harm to, or worse, kill another human being.

Hopefully, through your intervention, these children will grow up to be responsible compassionate adults. It is imperative that you, as exemplary adults, set the standards for these children, because obviously, the parents certainly did not.

Perhaps it's also time to sentence parents to community service and subject to fines for their children who commit crimes such as this.  Maybe if they were held accountable for their child's actions in this way, they will become more responsible parents!

When an animal is abused and killed in such an horrific manner it is understandable the general public wishes to express feelings, or feel the need to sign a petition as their way of contributing to or supporting authoritive efforts.

We are deeply appreciative of the County Attorneys  actions in this case and that all who sign this petition, stand supportive of the job the County Prosecuters office is doing.

Please accept our signatures in the spirit of goodwill with which they are very much intended and we hope, united in compassion as we are, for the best outcome possible.

Here are some excepts from the CURRENT TX Animal Cruelty Laws of which pertains to this heinous crime, yet the laws are vague, weak, and such as they are, have been undeniably negligent in prosecuting previous cases.


Actions Constituting "Cruelty": Affirmative Cruel Acts & Omissions

Texas law defines cruelty to include two general types of actions: affirmative acts and failing to act.

Affirmative Cruel Acts

Affirmative cruel actions include:
(1) torturing an animal;
(2) transporting or confining an animal in a cruel manner;
(3) killing, seriously injuring, or poisoning an animal belonging to another without legal authority or the owner%u2019s effective consent;
(4) causing an animal to fight with another;
(5) using a live animal as a lure in dog race training or in dog coursing on a race track;
(6) tripping a horse;
(7) injuring an animal belonging to another without legal authority or the owners effective consent; or
8) seriously overworking an animal.

Tex. Penal Code Ann.  42.09(a)(1), (4)-(10) (Vernon 2001).

The current statute does not provide a definition for "torture." Prior versions of Texas criminal statutes defined torture of an animal as "every act, omission or neglect whereby unnecessary or unjustifiable pain or suffering is caused, permitted or allowed to continue"...McGinnis v. State, 541 S.W.2d 431, 431 (Tex. Crim. App. 1976).  In McGinnis, the court focused on the words unnecessary or unjustifiable to conclude that the law, in some circumstances, contemplates that the infliction of pain and suffering is allowable.  The law was subsequently amended to generally prohibit the "torture of an animal", but no statutory guidance was provided as to the meaning of the term. In fact, courts recognized that a charge of "torturing" an animal was not sufficiently descriptive of the offense.  Consequently, specific acts of torture had to be alleged.  Cross v. State, 646 S.W.2d 514, 516 (Tex. App.%u2014Dallas 1982). 

Generally, in interpreting "torture" under the current statute, the court looks at the physical condition of the animal and the side effects of the cruel treatment.  First, the court in Celinski relied on the physical condition of the cats (prior to their being euthanized) to find that the defendants actions of placing the cats in the microwave constituted torture.  In a second case, the court found that the defendant%u2019s amputation of his puppys ears without the benefit of anesthetic or antibiotics, causing severe inflammation and side effects, constituted "torture." Bell v. State, 761 S.W.2d 847 (Tex. App.%u2014Beaumont 1988).  Not surprisingly, the court rejected the defendants excuse that he "chopped off" the dogs ears because "veterinarians charged too much." Id. at 849.


Often times, animal cruelty cases are not reported nor are they prosecuted. However, if a person is prosecuted and found guilty of animal cruelty, Texas law imposes different punishments based on the type of cruel action involved, whether the conviction was one of many offenses, or whether the defendant involved is a minor.  If a minor has engaged in delinquent conduct constituting an offense under Section 42.09, the juvenile court shall order the child to participate in psychological counseling for a period to be determined by the court. Tex. Fam. Code Ann. 54.0407 (Vernon 2002).  This law pertaining to minors involved in animal cruelty conduct was only recently added in 2001.

Some cruel actions warrant harsher punishments even on the first conviction. For cruelty offenses involving the torture, killing, seriously injuring, poisoning, fighting, or tripping of an animal, a state jail felony may be imposed on the first conviction.  Id. 42.09(g). If a defendant is convicted three times under these harsher penalties, he may be subject to a third degree felony sentence, which translates to imprisonment ranging from 2 to 10 years and a possible fine of up to $10,000.

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