by Jake Schild
An East Grays Harbor County man alleged to have killed a dog by inflicting horrific injuries on it made a preliminary appearance in Thurston County Superior Court Monday.
James Leroy Evans, 33, is alleged to have hanged the dog, a pit-bull mix, from a tree branch in the Capital Forest, [Summit Lake area] just east of Grays Harbor, where it was found by the state Department of Natural Resources officers March 22, 2016. According to court papers, a necropsy revealed the dog died from intentional asphyxiation and found evidence of severe trauma to the dog’s rectum.
Evans was arrested on Saturday in Malone, WA. according to Grays Harbor County Chief Criminal Deputy Steve Shumate. He was then taken to Thurston County and transferred to law enforcement there.
Evans appeared in front of Superior Court Judge Erik Price Monday via video from the Thurston County Jail. He retained defense attorney Richard Woodrow and bail was set at $50,000.
Evans has not been formally charged, said Thurston County Prosecutor’s Office Community Engagement Specialist Anne Larsen. After the preliminary hearing, the prosecutor’s office has 72 hours to make a decision on what charges Evans might face.
A press release from Thurston County Animal Services states the dog was sexually assaulted. However, in probable cause documents from the Superior Court, that allegations is not specifically made.
For the time being, said Larsen, the court had probable cause to set bail and schedule another hearing. Evans will be in custody for an arraignment April 26.
When officers from the DNR found the dog hanging, they observed the animal’s toes just barely touching the ground and its front legs clutching the trunk of the tree. Deep grooves were found on the tree where it had scratched up and down in an attempt to get away, court documents state.
Investigating officials say the dog’s name was “Diamond” and that it had acted as an emotional support dog for the son of its owner, someone who knew Evans.
Court papers state that the dog was supposed to be in Evans’ custody when the animal was found dead. The dog’s owner said she had moved in with Evans after a breakup and that Evans said he had killed the dog because it had killed his pet iguana.
On April 6, the owner called Evans on her cell phone to confront Evans while a police officer listened to the conversation. During the phone call, Evans stated, “Your (expletive) dog killed my iguana! That’s why she’s dead,” court documents state.
Court papers do state a necropsy revealed evidence of trauma to the dog’s rectum. Visible hand marks were found near its lower groin, “indicative of being restrained and bruising around her muzzle indicative of being sealed shut.”
A handful of local animal rights advocates attended Monday’s hearing, outraged by the accusations against Evans.
“I’ve had animals forever. I worship them and I value their existence, and this person doesn’t,” said Donna Holt, an attorney in Olympia.
Olympia-area resident Brad Chamberlain attended the hearing with his girlfriend, Amy Morgan. Morgan was in tears after Evans appeared in court.
“I’ve owned a pit-bull in the past. There is no reason that any being should have to go through what that animal went through,” she said. [Does that include people?]
Chamberlain said the couple was very passionate about animal rights issues and that they intend to contact legislators to make sure those who hurt animals suffer more stringent penalties. [What about state sponsored perpetrators?]