Animal shooting case now in Supreme Court may set precedent

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(file photo)

Yesterday, we shared with you the story of a dog being shot in Harmon. Today, we follow up with another animal cruelty case involving the shooting death of Yigo family pet Pugua. The case, which is on appeal to the Supreme Court of Guam, has the potential to set the bar for how other animal cruelty cases are pursued in court.

At the crux of the case is the appeal of animal cruelty charges dismissed against Gerald Cruz, who gets to decide crime and punishment, what is the crime of animal abuse, and how do we punish animal abusers.

The government’s lead attorney in the case, Stephanie Mendiola, said that it’s the legislature’s job to create the law and the court’s job to interpret the law’s intent.

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“At issue, in this case, is the interpretation of the law that created the felony crime of animal abuse and the corresponding punishments. The law is clear and unambiguous. It is a felony crime to cause serious physical injury to an animal and it remains a crime regardless if that animal lives or dies,” Mendiola said.

On the other hand, defense attorney William Bischoff asserted that the AG’s case was dismissed because it was charged erroneously.

He says this case is a clear-cut case of a person killing another’s animal, a misdemeanor charge, and not a felony that requires the element of torture.

Bischoff contends that Cruz delivered a “kill shot” to Pugua, causing him to die within a minute of being shot. Therefore, there was no substantial risk of death but death itself. He argues that the AG is trying to circumvent the law and charge his client with a felony. Pointing out that this means instead of a 0 to 1-year sentence, his client faces 5 to 28 years incarceration if re-indicted under the superseding indictment.

The AG argued back that how the government charges is not for the defense or the court to decide. The Supreme Court has taken the matter under advisement.

It should be noted that how the Supreme Court decides will have an impact on how individuals like Damian Greer, the gunman in yesterday’s Harmon dog shooting, is charged.

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Jolene Toves
Jolene joined the PNC team in 2017, as a producer, co-anchor and investigative reporter covering law enforcement, courts and crimes. Notable coverage includes the Ehlert case, the Mark Torre Jr. trial, the Allan Agababa trial, exclusive pieces on the Life of a Drug Dealer/Addict, and Life behind bars...the story of Honofre Chargualaf and Kevin Cruz. In 2019, she was promoted to Assistant News Director and Lead Anchor. From 2015 to 2017 she served as Public Relations and Promotions Manager, for the Hotel Nikko Guam handling local radio and advertorial promotions, as well as produced and directed tv commercials for the hotel. Prior to this she worked with KUAM for three years as a reporter and segment host. She began her journalism career in 2012, working with Glimpses of Guam contributing to the Guam Business Magazine, R&R magazine, MDM magazine and the Marianas Business Journal.