Dog bites man. Man shoots dog. Judge sends man to prison?
That's possible after a McHenry County jury Wednesday found a 57-year-old Woodstock man guilty on a pair of felony charges for fatally shooting his 3-year-old yellow Labrador retriever after the family pet bit him in May 2008.
Jurors deliberated nearly three hours Wednesday before convicting Kirk M. Locher on charges of aggravated cruelty and reckless discharge of a firearm stemming from the incident in which authorities said he shot the dog, named Breeze, in his kitchen as it laid a few feet away from his wife.
Locher and his attorney declined to comment as he left the McHenry County courthouse after the verdict.
He faces a maximum sentence of one to three years in prison, or probation, when sentenced Aug. 25.
Locher did not testify in his own defense during his two-day trial, but told police he killed his dog May 31, 2008 after it bit him for the second time in less than a month.
His wife, Donna Locher, testified she was sleeping about midnight early that morning when her husband came into their bedroom, grabbed his revolver and told her he planned to shoot the dog.
She said she followed him to the kitchen and, after she sat down at the table near Breeze, watched as her husband aimed his gun across the table and fired one shot into the dog's head.
Police later found Breeze in a garbage can.
During Wednesday's closing arguments, defense lawyer Daniel Hofmann said Locher justifiably euthanized the dog after it turned aggressive and bit him on more than one occasion. The only offense, he said, was that Locher killed the dog distastefully.
"Breeze was euthanized in an aesthetically unpleasing manner," Hofmann said. "There was no other private or public injury that occurred."
Prosecutors, however, said shooting his dog in the family kitchen was not just "aesthetically unpleasing," it also violates state law that says shooting is not an acceptable method of euthanasia for a dog.
"He tossed (Breeze) out and threw some garbage on top of him," Assistant McHenry County State's Attorney Sharyl Eisenstein said. "There was nothing humane about what the defendant did to his dog that night."
Prosecutors also disputed defense arguments that since Locher fired just one shot, and it was aimed directly at the dog, his actions were not reckless.
"The operator of the firearm had been drinking whiskey that day," Assistant McHenry County State's Attorney Ryan Blackney said. "At that time, at that location, with people around and after drinking whiskey, that is reckless."