More death-by-dog cases charged
From ANIMAL PEOPLE, January/February 2004:
DENVER–The Elbert County (Colorado) Sheriff’s Department on
January 14, 2004 recommended charges of criminally negligent
homicide and unlawful ownership of dangerous dogs against Jacqueline
McCuen, 32, and William Gladney, 46. Their three pit bull
terriers on November 30, 2003 killed horse trainer Jennifer Brooke,
40, as she walked to her barn at about 7:00 a.m.
Her partner, Bjorn Osmunsen, 24, noticed at about 10:00
a.m. that she had not returned. He and another person, not named by
media, went to look for her. Osmunsen and the unidentified person
were chased back indoors. Seeing that the dogs were covered with
blood, Osmunsen called 911, then tried again to find Brooke, and
was also mauled.
Soon afterward neighbor Lynn Baker stepped outside.
“The next thing I know,” Baker told Denver Post staff
writers George Merritt and Jim Kirksey, “I’m being attacked by three
pit bulls. One was leaping for my throat as one was dragging me down
by my hand.”
Kicking the dogs back, Baker climbed into the back of his
pickup truck and yelled for help. While another family member placed
the second of many calls to 911, Baker’s son Cody, 16, attempted a
rescue with a 12-gauge shotgun. He wounded two of the dogs with bird
shot, enabling Baker to get into the cab of the pickup truck, drive
to Cody, and take the shotgun. Baker then shot the third dog, who
continued to attack.
An Elbert County sheriff’s deputy arrived and finished all
three dogs with his pistol about 70 minutes after Osmunsen made the
first 911 call.
“The people in the area had their own sort of emergency phone
network to warn each other if the dogs were loose,” Rattlesnake Fire
District Chief Dale Goetz told Associated Press writer Robert Weller.
On April 12, 2003 two of the McCuen dogs mauled neighbor
Diana Nichols during her morning walk. McCuen was cited for having a
“vicious animal.” The charge was dropped in June 2003 because of a
lack of a locally applicable ordinance, but was later reinstated.
McCuen appeared in court on January 7, 2004 to contest the
“McCuen said she lost her home because her bank account was
garnisheed to pay penalties from a civil case Nichols brought and
won,” reported Denver Post staff writer George Merritt on January 14.
On October 4, 2003, the pit bulls reportedly chased
neighbor Linda Henderson in a menacing manner.
Michael Andre, lawyer for McCuen, told Associated Press
writer Cindy Brovsky that as many as seven pit bulls had lived at one
time with McCuen and her five daughters, ages two to 17.
“She had two dogs and they had two litters. She kept some of
the dogs and was able to sell some. You can get a hefty price for a
purebred dog,” Andre said, denyng that the dogs were bred to fight.
Pit bulls are not considered “purebred” dogs under American
Kennel Club breed standards, but pit bull pedigrees are kept by
several smaller registries.
George Merritt of the Denver Post reported on December 9, 2003 that
the Elbert County sheriff’s department found “carcasses of dead
animals” in a search of the McCuen property, but no further details
Brooke “was probably the best horse trainer in Parker,”
Glenn Miller, 44, of Colorado Springs, told Tillie Fong and
Charlie Brennan of the Rocky Mountain News.
Formerly an animal control officer in Missouri, and more
recently employed at the Arapahoe Park Race Track in Wembley,
Colorado, Brooke kept a variety of horses, dogs, cattle, and
reportedly two ostriches.
Brooke was cited by Elbert County for three counts of
misdemeanor neglect in early 2003, after a state veterinary
inspector “found a pregnant mare in difficulty and unattended, as
well as caged and dehydrated puppies, on her property,” Fong and
Brennan wrote. “She was granted deferred prosecution on October 8
and was scheduled for a review” in October 2004. Had she passed the
review, the charges would have been dropped.
“We talked to her vet and she turned out to be a good horse
owner. She seemed to be a very caring person. She brought several
strays to us, as well,” Denver Dumb Friends League spokesperson
Kristina Vourax said.
The Brooke killing has prompted former pit bull guardian
Larry Oliver, 57, of Clifton, Colorado, to start petitioning to
place a pit bull breeding ban on the November 2004 state ballot.
Oliver, who says his pit bull of four years severely injured him
without provocation three years ago, will need 67,829 signatures to
put the initiative before the voters.
Other dog attack cases:
* Colorado news media have often compared the Brooke killing
to the January 2001 killing of San Francisco lacrosse coach Diane
Whipple, 33, by two Presa Canarios kept by Marjorie Knoller, 48,
and Robert Noel, 62. A jury convicted both Knoller and Noel of
involuntary manslaughter, and convicted Knoller of second degree
murder too. The murder conviction was dismissed by trial Judge James
Warren. The California Office of the Attorney General has appealed
Warren’s ruling. Knoller and Noel have appealed the involuntary
With the appeals pending, Noel was paroled in September
2003, after serving half of a four-year prison sentence. Knoller
was paroled on January 2, 2004. As conditions of parole they are
barred from having contact with known felons, including each other,
and Knoller may not keep animals.
When Knoller and Noel were charged, the most recent previous
U.S. murder-by-dog conviction was of Jeffrey David Mann, of
Cleveland, Ohio. Mann in November 1993 was sentenced to serve 15
years to life in prison for ordering his pit bull to attack Angela
“Dolly” Dennise Kaplan on September 2, 1992. Kaplan, the mother of
two girls who were then ages 8 and 4, had lived with Mann since
1987. Mann will become eligible for parole in March 2004. Kaplan’s
mother Joyce Ragels on January 5 asked the Ohio Parole Board to deny
The Kaplan case was recalled on October 29, 2003, when Adam
Cooper, 39, was sentenced to four years in prison and was ordered
to pay $12,000 restitution for setting his pit bull on his wife
Charlotte in August after she asked for a divorce. The attack
occurred outside a motel in Hudson, Ohio. Charlotte Cooper survived
but will require extensive plastic surgery.
* Robert Freeman, 67, of Citra, Florida, was on December
29, 2003 charged with manslaughter for the December 12 fatal mauling
of Alice Broom, 81. Broom was attacked in her front yard by six
free-roaming pit bulls. Her daughters told Lashonda Stinson of the
Ocala Star-Banner that the dogs bit a man two weeks before killing
Broom, and attacked Broom’s dachshund in October. After Broom’s
death, Freeman was fined $108 for allowing another dog to run at
* Jackie Batey, 30, of Good Hope, California, on
December 5, 2003 was sentenced to serve a year in jail by Riverside
County Superior court Judge Albert J. Wojcik. Batey, a mother of
four and part-time baby-sitter, pleased guilty in October to
involuntary manslaughter for leaving a child she was hired to watch,
Somer Clugston, 2, unattended in her house on June 20 while running
errands. Clugston slipped outside and was killed by Batey’s pit
bull. Her remains were found two hours later by Batey’s 12-year-old
The Batey sentence was markedly stiffer than the 180 days in jail and
order to pay $24,613 given to former Red Bluff police officer Charles
Dean Schneider, 54, in August 2003, in the most recent comparable
California case. Schneider’s two Rottweiler/ pug mixes escaped from
his yard to kill Genoe Alonzo Novach, age 6, on February 7, 2002
* Columbus city court records now list as “closed” an
involuntary manslaughter charge filed on September 4, 2003 against
Dr. Matthew Crawley, 40, of Columbus, Ohio, for the death of
Vivian Anthony, 54, on March 26. Anthony died from complications
of wounds suffered in a February 1 attack by a Rottweiler. She lost
most of one leg and suffered lung, kidney, and heart infections.
“A second dog attack in the same neighborhood led police to
Crawley,” said Associated Press. “Rose Vaugn, 45, was attacked by
a Rottweiler on February 25. Two men beat the dog away and she
survived. Police tracked paw prints in the snow to Crawley’s back
door. Crawley owned three Rottweilers,” one of which was reportedly
linked by DNA testing to both attacks.
A grand jury apparently declined to issue an indictment.