William Miller

Killing neighbor’s dog

Gettysburg, PA

May, 2006

William Miller, 53, of 355 Company Farm Road in Gettysburg, is accused of beating, shooting and running over Dewayne Marcionette’s 13-1/2 year old Golden Retriever.  Miller appeared in District Court on Tuesday, August 8th, for a hearing on two counts of cruelty to animals.

During his testimony, Marcionette stated that he and his family were returning from a soccer game when they noticed their dogs – two Golden Retrievers, ages 13-1/2 and 5-years old, had dug out under the fence and left their yard at 75 Mandy Lane.  Marcionette jumped into his truck and drove up East Company Farm Road looking for the dogs.  He found 13-1/2 year old Cheyenne lying near the intersection of Rupp Road. Blood was coming out of her mouth and she had tire marks on her.  Marcionette stated that Cheyenne had partial hip displaysia and was partially deaf.  She was slow, often taking 20-30 minutes to get herself up in the morning. He stated he was surprised that she made it that far up the road.

After comforting her as she died, he picked her up and took her home.  At home he noticed several puncture holes in her head and neck and halfway up her spine. He then notified Pennsylvania State Police. Pennsylvania State Police Trooper Michael Gantt testified that Miller also called to report a dog had been killed.

Trooper Gantt stated that during an interview at Miller’s home, Miller said he saw two dogs on his property and that one of the dogs had gone in his pond and had his duck by the neck. He further stated that his wife had raised the duck from a hatchling.  Gantt also testified that Miller said one of dogs snapped at him.  Miller further stated that he got a rake and hit one of the dogs in the head.

Miller then testified that he got in his car and followed the dogs to see where they came from and he accidentally ran it over.  Trooper Gantt then went to the Marcionette’s home to look at Cheyenne.  Gantt stated Cheyenne had an injury to her back, ‘possibly from a firearm’, and that blood was coming from her wounds.  The younger dog, Max, ran back home when confronted by Miller. Cheyenne was trying to follow, but did not make it.  Wounds were also found on the younger dog.

Marcionette took the dogs to a veterinarian who checked Max for internal bleeding as a precaution, and then examined Cheyenne.  In his report, the veterinarian stated that Cheyenne had sustained ‘severe trauma’ from being hit on the head.  The report also stated a pellet traveled through her body to her thorax, and that she suffered shock and trauma from being run over.  The veterinarian had determined that Cheyenne had been shot about the same time everything else happened to the dog.

Betty Peake, Humane Officer for the Adams County SPCA had been called by Trooper Gantt to investigate the case.  Peake testified that she responded to Marcionette’s home the next day and asked him to accompany her to the location where he found Cheyenne.  Peake testified that the blood trail started adjacent to Miller’s property and run up to the stop sign.  Peake further testified that the dog was on the opposite side of the road and he would have had to cross the road to hit it.  Miller’s attorney, Michael Palmero, asked Peake if it was possible that Cheyenne was hit on the opposite side of the road, and then crossed the road, where she was hit again.  Peake replied ‘No, because of the blood trail’.

The day before, Marcionette had discovered a blood trail spattered about 471 feet from Miller’s home to where he found Cheyenne.  Marcionette testified that while he was taking photos of the scene, Miller hollered from his garage at him, ‘you f’ing animal lover’.

Following the testimony, Palermo told Judge Thomas Carr that the prosecution presented no evidence of Miller’s intent to kill Cheyenne.  He further stated that Miller took the necessary action to free his duck.

Adams County Assistant District Attorney Shane Crosby told the judge he is familiar with a part of the state dog law that allows a property owner to shoot an animal that is endangering wildlife. He further stated that he was not familiar with a part of the law allowing an owner to beat an animal in the face, then get in his vehicle, follow it up the road and run it over.

Judge Carr stated the real issue is whether Miller had a right to protect his property and if his actions were accidental or intentional.  Based on the evidence presented to him, he stated he could not infer that it was not an accident, and that he would forward the charges to county court.

Following the hearing, the Marcionette's stated they were happy the charges would advance to the county level.  Miller faces a maximum penalty of two years in jail and more than $5,000 in fines.

After charges were filed in May, the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), sent a letter to District Attorney Shaw Wagner, asking that Miller undergo a psychiatric evaluation if he is convicted, followed by mandatory counseling and possibly anger-management classes at his own expense.  PETA also wants Miller to lose the right to ever own animals again.

Update 12/5/06:

Jury selection is proving to be difficult for Miller’s trial.  18 potential jurors owned dogs.  9 owned 2 or more dogs and 3 said they might not be able to keep their love for dogs from interfering with their judgment on the case.

Update 12/12/06:

After a 6 hour deliberation, Judge Michael George asked members of an undecided jury to raise their hands if they thought further deliberation would be pointless.  11 did, and the Judge declared a mistrial.  Prosecutors will retry the case


The Evening Sun