Judge Dismisses Charges Against Dog Shooting Cop
Posted on Monday, 4 of August , 2008 at 4:27 pm
BOLTON LANDING—Warren County district attorney Kate Hogan says that the People will appeal the flip-flop decision rendered Monday by a Bolton town justice which dismissed all charges against a Long Island police officer who had been convicted last month of two firearms charges related to the shooting of a dog last Memorial Day in Hague.
At a brief hearing Monday morning, Bolton town justice Harry Demarest who is a retired police officer, once again reversed himself and dismissed the convictions imposed last month against John J. Sheehan, 37, of Hauppauge, LI.
Sheehan, an officer with the Suffolk County Police Department, had been acquitted of animal cruelty charges but convicted of firing a gun across a highway and discharging a weapon within 500 feet of a dwelling.
District attorney Hogan said that the prosecution is asking Demarest to reduce his decision in writing so the People can file a notice of appeal.
Demarest rendered an oral decision based on a motion for a mistrial filed last week by defense attorney Gary Hobbs seeking the dismissal of all charges.
Hogan said that Demarest characterized Hobbs’ motion as a “440 motion” which can be filed to set aside the sentence or to vacate the judgment at any time after the entry of a judgment. The trial court can set aside the sentence on grounds that it was unauthorized, illegally imposed or otherwise invalid as a matter of law.
Sheehan shot Zeus, a neighbor’s dog in the head, claiming that he was endangered by the 30-pound Boxer and family pet as he was jogging past the home of the dog’s owner. He was found not guilty several weeks ago of animal cruelty charges but convicted of two misdemeanor firearm charges and fined $400 by town justice Harry Demarest.
He could have also been sentenced up to three months in jail on each count.
Demarest had dismissed the two misdemeanor firearms counts against Sheehan in June but reinstated them following argument by Hogan and assistant district attorney Emilee Davenport.
Demarest had reserved decision following the non-jury trial the end of June, saying that he would issue his ruling in writing which he did, imposing sentence at the same time. By law, both the defense and prosecution have a right to be heard before sentence is imposed and in essence were denied that in the Sheehan case, due to Demarest’s procedure.
The district attorney’s office sought a resentencing, arguing that an order of protection should be imposed against Sheehan keeping him away from the owners of the dog. The prosecution also wanted Sheehan to reimburse the owners of Zeus for veterinarian bills which they incurred and for Sheehan to perform 100 hours of community service due to the nature of the crimes.
At the resentencing hearing last week, Hobbs moved for a mistrial. He also argued that Sheehan should get a new trial because he supposedly didn’t sign a waiver to a jury trial, an option chosen by Hobbs who is a part-time judge in Glens Falls City Court. The matter had been adjourned until Monday to give the People time to file a written response to Hobb’s motion.
http://www.northcountrygazette.org/2008 ... _on_trial/
This is the third time since 2001 that Sheehan or his father, a retired police officer, have shot a dog in the residential area of Route 8 in Hague in northern Warren County. Sheehan shot and killed another dog on Summit Drive in July 2005 which the animal control officer said had been over 100 feet away from Sheehan. He wasn’t charged in that incident, also citing self defense. When Sheehan’s father shot a dog on his son’s property, he escaped charges too.
http://www.northcountrygazette.org/2008 ... _for_zeus/ 8-4-08
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. This article may not be reprinted or reproduced in its entirety in any other medium. The link and a paragraph or two may be used.
http://www.northcountrygazette.org/2008 ... dismissal/