PITTSFIELD -- A jury took less than 10 minutes on Monday to determine a city man was not guilty of animal cruelty in a case in which the prosecution alleged he tossed his small dog by the scruff of the neck four feet in the air and seven feet distant.
During the Jury of Six session in Central Berkshire District Court, Christopher Newell, 27, maintained that he had "scooted" his Pekingese "Akasha" in order to get her to move away from a fence and that the dog wasn’t hurt by the action.
Karen Eggleston, the main prosecution witness, told the jury that on June 25, 2011, she saw Newell toss his dog after it ran up to other side of her fence on Spring Street in Pittsfield where her dogs were playing.
Newell’s dog wasn’t leashed, she said, and was running back and forth along the fence line.
She said she confronted Newell and was met with verbal abuse from the man. Her former husband, Bruce Eggleston, told a similar story from the stand.
Newell’s attorney, Michelle Mechta, told the jury that it was this verbal tirade and not her client’s behavior toward his dog that led Karen Eggleston to call police.
Mechta said that the dog wasn’t hurt and wasn’t taken from Newell by the police.
In court, Newell said he picked the dog up by its mid-section and gently scooted it away. He denied tossing the dog.
"I’m not that kind of person, period," he said.
Under cross-examination, Newell said the dog may have gone about three feet and landed on all four paws. He said he didn’t take the dog for a veterinary visit as was suggested to him by police.
The five woman and one man jury found Newell not guilty.