ALERT: This article contains a graphic photo of the dog involved in the incident. Reader discretion is advised.
ST. GEORGE — A St. George man accused of killing his neighbor’s 2-pound Yorkshire Terrier, named “Chewy,” with pruning shears has pleaded guilty to an animal cruelty charge.
Kenyon Clark Benson, 74, previously pleaded not guilty to the animal abuse charge in Washington County Justice Court before Judge Douglas Whitlock, telling the judge that the dog’s death was accidental.
Benson was to face a trial by court rather than by jury Tuesday, but chose to forgo the bench trial and pleaded guilty to a class C misdemeanor count of aggravated cruelty to an animal.
In exchange for his guilty plea, the St. George City Attorney’s Office recommended that the court sentence Benson to serve 90 days in jail with the 90-day term suspended, and that he be placed on a 12-month bench probation instead.
As part of the plea deal, Benson must also pay $2,109.03 in restitution to the Justice Court and write a full-page letter of apology to a 12-year-old girl who owned the dog and witnessed his death.
The criminal charge dates back to a call made to police by Nancy Limburg last November stating that her neighbor had beaten her family’s tiny pet dog to death with a pair of gardening shears in front of her 12-year-old daughter.
The St. George Police Department subsequently opened an investigation into the matter.
“What is known and is not in dispute, is that a small dog entered the neighbor’s yard and approached the man, who was maintaining his landscaping,” the Police Department said in a November statement. “The man swung a long handled pruning sheer (sic) at the dog when it approached him. The sheers (sic) ended up striking the dog in the head, killing it instantly.”
According to court documents, Benson told police he was in his front yard on the 500 North block of 2040 East pruning his roses when his neighbor let the dog out.
“Mr. Benson said the dog came screaming across the road and was barking,” according to a court affidavit filed in the case. “Mr. Benson stated he swung at the dog with the pruners to shoo it away and accidentally hit the dog in the head.”
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