published Wednesday, May 11th, 2011

Cruelty trial: Jury to decide if man who shot dog was in fear

  • photo
    Roger Dale Beason takes the stand in his own behalf Tuesday during his trial in Judge Don Poole's courtroom on charges of aggravated cruelty to animals. Staff Photo by John Rawlston/Chattanooga Times Free Press

Roger Dale Beason shot a dog in the snout with an arrow.

The question a jury has to answer today is if he had a reason to shoot it.

The 36-year-old Whitwell, Tenn., man faces an aggravated cruelty to animals charge in Hamilton County Criminal Court. During the first day of his trial Tuesday, witnesses for Assistant District Attorney Lance Pope and Assistant Public Defender Erinn O’Leary testified that the dog was both friendly and aggressive.

The trial resumes today, and each attorney may have more evidence to present. But after Beason testified on his own behalf Tuesday, the case likely will reach the jury this morning.

The stray, black female German shepherd mix that looked as though she’d recently had pups roamed around the JIT Steel Service parking lots and surrounding businesses in late August and through September 2009.

She’d take food scraps left in bowls or pieces of a sandwich from the hand of Greenlife grocery store worker Amber Clarkson and JIT Chemical employee William Hicks Jr., each testified.

Both said the dog never growled or threatened them in the weeks before Beason shot it on Sept. 25, 2009.

But workers at JIT Steel Service said the dog roamed the lots, hiding beneath cars with a male dog. Some described the animal as looking feral, almost like a coyote.

Lois Cothran, a truck driver for the steel company, described a fearful early morning encounter with both dogs.

“You could tell they were very hungry,” she testified. “It wasn’t a friendly looking puppy.”

Early one morning before McKamey Animal Care and Adoption Service officers came and caught the male dog, Cothran came to work while it still was dark. Another employee was in the lot changing his shoes nearby as she worked.

“They came out from the shadows, growling, barking,” she said. The employee shooed the male dog away, but Cothran said the female dog stayed in the shadows, growling.

She told her supervisors she wouldn’t be alone in the lot anymore until the dogs were removed.

A short while later the Mc-Kamey officers caught the male dog, but the female escaped.

The dog didn’t have a name that anyone knew.

Beason testified that he’d seen the dogs chasing cars out of the lot, but avoided them completely. On the day he shot the dog he’d brought his camouflaged compound bow and arrows in his two-door extended cab Ford F-150 pickup truck to try and sell to a co-worker.

When he left at the end of his shift that afternoon the lot was nearly empty. He got to his vehicle and heard growling.

Beason testified that he “panicked” and ran around to the passenger side of the truck where he saw his bow in the front seat, the arrows laying on the floor.

He looked but didn’t see the dog.

Grabbing the bow, he pushed an arrow into the string, half drew as he turned from inside the truck and saw the dog near the front end of the truck and, without aiming, fired.

The arrow hurtled a distance of between 15 and 20 feet, he estimated, and plunged into the animal’s snout.

Dr. Kim Barlowe, a veterinarian at Regional Institute for Veterinary Emergencies and Referrals, saw the dog a short while later. The dog ran down Manufacturer’s Road and into Coolidge Park near Girls Preparatory School where McKamey officer Matt Agnew captured it.

Barlowe testified that the arrow had entered the dog’s snout, pierced the soft palate and esophagus, lodging the four-blade razor-sharp tip near its spine.

She believed the dog was in shock but acted docile while being transported and examined.

The damage was too severe and the dog was euthanized.

Agnew and Chattanooga police Officer Daniel Russell both testified that when they interviewed Beason he did not say he felt threatened and that the dog was stationary when shot.

Beason testified that he told everyone he talked with after shooting the dog that he was in fear.

“I told them I was scared, the dog came at me and I was terrified,” he said. “I wouldn’t have just shot the dog for no reason, that’s not me.”

about Todd South...

Todd South covers courts, poverty, technology, military and veterans for the Times Free Press. He has worked at the paper since 2008 and previously covered crime and safety in Southeast Tennessee and North Georgia. Todd’s hometown is Dodge City, Kan. He served five years in the U.S. Marine Corps and deployed to Iraq before returning to school for his journalism degree from the University of Georgia. Todd previously worked at the Anniston (Ala.) Star. Contact ...

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maddawg said...

This guy needs to be punished for what he did and for perjury on the stand. This is not the story he told his friends and coworkers after the incident. I know one of his friends really well. This punk is a liar.

May 11, 2011 at 5:53 a.m.
riverstronghold said...

So Maddawg, if you know something, say something. The DA is in the book...if you are right then you are very right.

Even if your words lead nowhere in this case, you would lead us forward as a community, and as and for your self as well.

If in fact this individual did this with cruel cold meanness just because he was too uncaring to call proper authorities and he is also lying on the stand, then he needs to feel some fear and suffering himself.

If he is a liar and you know it then don't hide his lie with him.

I could understand his trying to protect himself if he needed to, even if clumsily and poorly, perhaps, but i have no tolerance for cruelty to amuse the cruel. Not much more for those who hide them.

Sounds like you have a conscience. Use it beyond this forum, please.

May 11, 2011 at 9:59 a.m.
riverstronghold said...

and if he didn't do this with cruel intent, if this is a failure of our pet overpopulation programming instead of this man's character, then he deserves to be fully cleared of charges with no smear on his name.

May 11, 2011 at 10:29 a.m.
normalguy said...

This guy didnt bring his bow to sell it, he brought it to do what he did. So give him what he deserves.

May 11, 2011 at 12:21 p.m.
steelhope said...

Really NORMALGUY, is that your opinion, or do you also have information that you have neglected to provide the authorities? Unless you were there or have other evidence proving your conclusion, then you opinion in this case means absolutely nothing.

May 11, 2011 at 1:33 p.m.

I thought Ron Littlefield was paying the McKamey Animal Center a lot of tax payer money to make our city safer from animals like this one?

Maybe the man was threatened. But he went through a lot more effort and danger to: circle his truck, open the truck door, grab and prepare the high-powered bow, then point and shoot the dog. Why not simply open the truck door, climb in, and close it behind you?

May 11, 2011 at 2:44 p.m.
steelhope said...

If McKamey had done their job in the first place, we would not be having this debate...whatever the decision of the jury, I believe (this is my opinion) that McKamey should shoulder some of the responsibility.

May 11, 2011 at 3 p.m.
normalguy said...

Couldn't have said it better. A compound bow takes a lot longer to aim and shoot than it would have to get in your truck and call the proper authorities. I can guarantee that if a rabid dog was coming after me i would not be wielding a bow trying to defend myself.

May 11, 2011 at 3:03 p.m.
normalguy said...

"The Chattanooga Times Free Press reports that Beason testified he was terrified as he left his job in Chattanooga and heard the dog growling under his pickup truck. He said he ran around the side of the truck, grabbed his compound bow and fired an arrow into the dog."

HHMMMMMM, MUST NOT HAVE BEEN TOO TERRIFIED!!!!!!

May 11, 2011 at 3:09 p.m.
rolando said...

"Why not simply open the truck door, climb in, and close it behind you?"

Excellent point, BTG.

May 11, 2011 at 3:36 p.m.
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