Robert James Lausin, Jr.

Beating a dog

Youngstown OH

Dec. 11, 2003

Lausin, DOB:  1/10/80, of 6996 Ledge Rd, Thompson, OH tortured and abused a 1 year old spaniel named Sunshine while the dogs guardian was at work.  Lausin was dating Sunshine’s guardian, Luanne Baker, at the time. 

When Luanne Baker returned home on that December day, she called Sunshine as she usually did and the dog did not come.  The dog had been trying to get up but kept collapsing.  As Luanne approached Sunshine she saw the dogs front leg dangling.  Luanne picked up the dog and felt something move in the dog’s chest.

Sunshine now has a metal plate with 8 screws holding 3 broken bones together (Courtesy Photo's)

Sunshine was taken to Natalie Griffen, DVM at the Veterinary Referral Clinic in Bedford Heights, OH. Dr. Griffen, an intern at the time, determined that her front leg was broken in 3 places.  She had a broken rib and a collapsed and punctured lung.  The x-rays also showed that her heart was lifted off her sternum.  She had hemorrhaging in her eye and showed signs of other head trauma.

Luanne confronted Lausin and he admitted he kicked the dog with his boots, because he was jealous.  He also admitted that he had planned this cruelty well in advance.  He had looked in the windows to see if Sunshine had pooped so he had a reason to beat her.  After he beat and tortured the dog, he called Luanne telling her how much he loved her and how he couldn’t wait until she got home.  Lausin was arraigned on 9/22/04. At his pre-trial hearing on 10/7/04, plead not guilty and he filed an affidavit of indigency.  On 1/3/05, Lausin’s attorney Susan R. Thomas, filed a Motion to Suppress and a Suppression Hearing was given on the same day. 

          

Outline of Sunshine’s body in the basement wall (Courtesy Photo's)

Sunshine’s life was saved by three veterinarians, Dr. Natalie Griffen of Veterinary Referral Clinic in Bedford, Heights, OH; Lawrence W. Anson, DVM from the Akron Veterinary Referral and Emergency Center who placed the metal plate in Sunshine; and W.T. Sternecker, DVM of the Medina Veterinary Clinic who worked with a local agency in accepting donations from the public to help with Sunshine's surgery.  She now runs around with a wagging tail and a metal plate with 8 screws holding her bones together.  Sunshine also had to have surgery to her back knee.  As of March 2005 she has just begun to stand on her hind legs to look out of the windows again.

Lausin was found guilty by Judge Richard L. Stephens in Ashtabula County Court (case #2004 CR B 00824W) on 3/2/05.  The maximum sentence Lausin can receive is 6 months in jail, a fine of up to $1000 and pay restitution for the cost of the veterinary fees, however the prosecutor, Jodi Misinec is only asking for 2 months in jail and 2 months house arrest, and even then Lausin may only get probation.

Lausin was found guilty of 1st Degree Cruelty to Animals, (Statute 959.01, 959.02, 959.13) which is a Misdemeanor in Ohio.  He will be sentenced on 4/6/05.

Lausin has other previous criminal and civil convictions in Ohio.  He is currently under house arrest with work privileges for a DWI.   While in jail after assaulting the dog, Lausin was placed in “the hole”, for being unruly.   During the time he was charged with DWI and on house arrest Lausin won a tough man contest at a local bar by completing the circuit on his ankle bracelet with jumper cables to get out and go to the bar.

Luanne has also filed a civil suit against Lausin because the prosecutor in this case has not asked the courts for any psychological counseling, anger management program or restitution of veterinary costs.

Prosecutor Misinec-Blankenship stated she only asked for 2 months jail because of Lausin’s financial problems.

Our investigation has found that Lausin has had at least 10 prior court cases with the Ashtabula Municipal Court.  They are:

1.      Case #98TRD02972W on 11/16/98 for a seat belt violation (OH plate #BAF9077).  He was found guilty and Paid $43.00

2.  Case #99TRD00818W on 3/15/99 for a seat belt violation (OH plate #BAF9077).  He was found guilty and fined $53.00 for the 1st Degree misdemeanor

3.  Case #99TRD02468W on 7/2/99 for a speeding violation (OH plate #BAF9077).  He was found guilty and paid $68.00.

4.  Case #99TRD03261W on 8/26/99 for a speeding violation (OH plate #PAX62653).  He was found guilty and paid $148.00.

5.  Case #99TRD04046W on 10/19/99 for a speeding violation and plate violation on a motorcycle (OH plate #35DRT).  He was found guilty and fined $148.00

6. Case #00TRD03854W on 12/10/00 for no operators license and DUI (OH plate #BOBGT).  He was found guilty for the license violation, and the DUI was dismissed.  Fined $425.00 and given 5 days in jail.

7.  Case #03TRD01166W on 4/21/03 for driving under suspension (OH plate #COY7162).  Lausin plead no contest, was found guilty and fined $350.00.

8.  Case #03TRD01319W on 5/11/03 for driving under suspension (OH plate #COY7162).  He was found guilty, paid $350.00 and spent 15 days in jail.

9.  Case #04CRB00179W on 3/5/04 for having an open container.  He was found guilty and paid $95.00.

10.  Case #04TRC01141W on 5/16/04 for DWI 3rd offense (OH plate #DB58LP).  He was found guilty and fined $755.00

0n 7/01/82, Donna M. Slocum was granted a divorce from Lausin.  (Case #0000PC76330), Slocum was given custody of the minor child.  Lausin must pay child support and health insurance and has visitation rights.

Update:  1/11/07:

A civil case was filed in the Ashtabula County Courts, Case #04CVF00762W on 12/9/04 by Luanne Baker against Lausin in regards to the injuries that her dog Sunshine sustained.  Lausin was ordered by the court to pay back $1000.  The veterinary bills for Sunshine totaled approximately $3000.  The case was closed because Lausin's criminal case has not been resolved.  The civil trial may be reopened upon completion of the other case.

Case #05CA00049 was filed on 6/30/05 as a notice of appeal to the 11th District Appellate Court after Lausin was found guilty in regards to the criminal case for injuries to Sunshine.  Originally Lausin had changed his plea of innocence to a plea of no contest and was to be sentenced on 4/6/03 but Lausin got a new attorney and tried to change his plea back to not guilty. Lausin won his appeal for the sentence received so Case #04CRB00824W was reopened on 9/22/04.  Lausin's lawyer based his appeal on "additional discovery information" not reportedly provided to the defense at the time of the court proceedings.  The appellate court reversed the ruling stating in part that the trial court erred by permitting Luanne Baker to testify at the amended motion hearing to withdraw the no contest plea.  The appellate Judge also ruled that Lausin's motions were made prior to the sentencing and that the trial court "abused it's discretion" by denying Lausin's motions to withdraw his no contest plea as unreasonable.

The "additional discovery information" Lausin's attorney Leo Talikka presented to the appellate court was the discovery of the existence of 2 documents that suggested the dog was injured as a result of being hit by a car.  The appellate court record also states "We do know there is no other evidence of an automobile accident".

Meanwhile Luanne Baker has contacted over 30 Senators trying to get the animal cruelty penalties increased, but the overall response is that they are not going to ask for the penalties in OH until the courts start giving the full penalties currently available.

Before Lausin's appeal the prosecutor was only discussing probation, but after receiving several letters from the public, ADA Jodi A. Blankenship asked for 2 months jail time.  Judge Richard Stevens gave Lausin 2 months in jail and 1 year probation., and ordered a psychiatric evaluation.  Lausin was also order to have no contact with the dog's owner and to pay the dog's owner $1000. With the new case there is now a new prosecutor Amanda Condon.

Lausin's next court appearance is on January 31, 2007 at 9am for a status hearing and again on February 14, 2007 at 8am for a jury trial.

Update 2/22/07:

Judge Steven's officially reopened Lausin's case after at his court appearance on 2/14/07.  Next status hearing set for April 18, 2007 at 11:15am - Lausin's jury trial is now set for May 16, 2007 at 8am.

Update 5/21/07:

After 3 1/2 years, two full days of a jury trial they finally upheld the convicted Robert Lausin of "Injuring Animals".

Lausin's defense attorney tried to break the witnesses by stating Sunshine's owner was negligent for refusing to have the dog's leg amputated when in fact Luanne got a specialist to save Sunshine's leg.  Because different veterinarians had estimated Sunshine's age (no one knows her exact date of birth) that Luanne must be bringing a different dog to different veterinarians and implied cover ups.  Even tried to claim that Sunshine's injuries were because the dog was hit by a car (unfounded and untrue).

The emergency vet, Dr. Griffen, came all the way from Virginia to OH to testify. Animal Legal Defense Fund helped her get to the trial.  Dr. Griffen testified about the suspected abuse from the beginning. The humane society worker, Christine Conway, also testified that the abuse was reported right away

The specialist, Dr. Anson who saved Sunshine's leg also testified that there was never any evidence of a car accident.

Lausin received two months in jail with work release, an order for a mental evaluation with counseling based upon the results, a year probation, and an order to stay away from Luanne Baker and Sunshine.

The judge originally ordered Lausin to pay a $1,000 fine payable to Luanne Baker instead of the court for veterinary care of Sunshine and is now looking into whether or not he can increase it to more represent the actual vet bills.

References:

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals

Animal Legal Defense Fund

The Star Beacon

11th Appellate District Court of Appeals

Western County Court