Jury splits in trial over dog shot with arrow

Jury splits in trial over dog shot with arrow

May 12th, 2011 by Todd South in News

Roger Beason listens as jurors hear the prosecution's closing statements Wednesday. Beason is accused of shooting a dog in the face with a compound bow. Staff Photo by Tim Barber/Chattanooga Times Free Press

A Hamilton County jury couldn't reach a verdict Wednesday in the trial of a Whitwell, Tenn., man charged with aggravated animal cruelty for shooting a stray dog in the snout with an arrow.

After a two-day trial and nearly three and a half hours of deliberation, the jury foreman told Criminal Court Judge Don Poole the jury was divided, 7-5, over charges against Roger Dale Beason, 36.

Poole declared a mistrial and set a hearing for June 1. Assistant District Attorney Lance Pope said his office hadn't decided whether to retry the case.

Beason's attorney, Assistant Public Defender Erinn O'Leary, declined to comment.

The jury foreman declined to be interviewed Wednesday.

Chris Karr, 25, was one of seven jurors who thought Beason was not guilty.

"I love dogs. I hate what happened to the animal, but at the same time I'm not going to convict a man who was defending himself," Karr said.

Beason testified that he shot the dog in September 2009 because it was underneath his pickup truck growling, and he was "terrified" she might attack him.

The dog, a black German shepherd mix, ran away with the arrow lodged in her snout. She later was captured by McKamey Animal Care and Adoption Center officers and euthanized because of her extensive injuries.

Some witnesses testified that the dog was friendly, eating from people's hands. Others said she was aggressive, chasing cars and growling as workers walked past where it roamed in the JIT Steel Service parking lot.

Karr said Beason's testimony Tuesday helped some of the jurors decide he wasn't guilty.

"That's what persuaded most people that voted no," he said.

But inside the jury room, jurors wouldn't budge, he said.

The aggravated animal cruelty charge is a felony, but jurors could have found Beason guilty of animal cruelty, a misdemeanor.

Karr said the jury was split along the same lines on both charges.