A Reisterstown man was found guilty in the death of a dog discovered deceased in the water of Liberty Reservoir a year ago.
Anthony Michael Muniz, 37, was convicted on four animal cruelty and abandonment charges following the conclusion of a jury trial Wednesday in the Carroll County Circuit Court before Judge Fred Hecker.
Immediately following the verdict, Hecker sentenced Muniz to three years in the Division of Corrections, the maximum sentence, according to a news release from the Carroll County State’s Attorney’s Office.
On Feb. 28, 2017, Animal Control officers from the Humane Society of Carroll County responded to Liberty Reservoir for a report of a dead dog floating in the water on the Carroll County side, underneath the Nicodemus/Deer Park bridge. The dog, a male black and white bully breed, was tied to a cinder block.
Animal Control and the Baltimore Environmental Police, which has jurisdiction over all of Baltimore City’s reservoirs, launched a joint investigation.
Expert testimony from a state’s witness who examined the dog could not rule out drowning as the cause of death, though strangulation was also a possible cause. Investigators believe Muniz intentionally threw him from the bridge over the reservoir.
The State’s Attorney’s Office thanked Animal Control Officer Edward Smith and the Baltimore Environmental Police, calling their work “outstanding.”
Muniz chose to testify Wednesday afternoon. He responded “absolutely not” when asked by his attorney, Brad Bauhof, whether he had killed the dog.
He testified that the dog was previously owned by his partner and he took the dog, named Roscoe, to the Humane Society because his partner and her children had been forced to relocate to a home where there were already pets in residence. He told staff of the Humane Society that the dog was a stray.
When Senior Assistant State’s Attorney Ashley Pamer cross-examined Muniz, he admitted he had lied to Humane Society employees while surrendering the dog.
On Dec. 24, Muniz adopted the dog, re-named Gus by the Humane Society. The dog was implanted with a microchip at that time, listing Muniz as the owner.
Less than three months later, the dog was discovered deceased by a citizen. He is estimated to have been in the reservoir for about four weeks at that time.
The prosecution presented evidence that Muniz killed Roscoe to get back at his partner after an incident. During her testimony as a witness for the defense, she said this was not the case.
“My office will aggressively prosecute the abuse or mistreatment of animals. Often people who mistreat and abuse animals pose a much greater risk to the public and are more likely to commit other crimes. I hope this conviction and sentence sends a warning to anyone who would engage in such conduct in the future,” Carroll County State’s Attorney Brian DeLeonardo stated in a news release.
Following the trial, Bauhof said they are not planning to appeal the results. He said his opposition presented a well-prepared and investigated case.
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“For a variety of reasons, this was a case that needed to be tried,” he said.