One man pleaded guilty Monday to attacking a dog with a machete, and two men in another case were ordered to stand trial for allegedly beating another dog to death.
Two high-profile animal abuse cases were heard in Merced Superior Court.
The defendant in the more recent case, Myron L. Pattillo, pleaded guilty to a single felony count of animal cruelty in connection with the May 1 death of a Siberian husky.
The animal was tied to a fire hydrant at Conestoga Drive and Austin Avenue and slashed repeatedly with machetes by Pattillo and, allegedly, his co-defendant Aaron W. Carney.
Pattillo, 46, however, indicated he intended to fight the other charge in the case, a single felony count of robbery. That charge stems from allegations he forcibly took the dog away from the person who was walking with it at the time.
Carney, 29, has pleaded not guilty to charges of animal cruelty and robbery. Both men appeared Monday before Judge David W. Moranda for a preliminary hearing. That hearing continues Tuesday.
Pattillo’s attorney, Thomas Pfeiff, said his client wants to “take full responsibility” for animal cruelty. “But he absolutely denies he forcibly took that dog from anybody,” Pfeiff said following Monday’s hearing.
Two other defendants in an unrelated animal abuse case also appeared before the same judge on Monday for a preliminary hearing.
Tony Clendenin, 52, and his son Samuel Clendenin, 24, have pleaded not guilty to felony animal cruelty in connection with the Jan. 16 beating death of a neighbor’s German shepherd in the backyard of the Clendenins’ home on Massasso Court.
Attorneys defending the father and son argued Monday their clients were simply defending themselves from a large dog that attacked them on their own property.
“You have a large dog, a 75-pound German shepherd, that got into their yard, attacked the neighbors and they responded,” defense attorney Bill Davis said. “The dog placed my client in danger.”
Deputy Public Defender Paul Lyon argued that his client, the younger Clendenin, did not retreat into his home because Samuel Clendenin’s 3-year-old son was inside and he feared opening the house door with the dog in the backyard. The younger Clendenin also told police the dog had bitten his foot and said a damaged boot should be considered evidence in the case.
Officer Joseph Opinski, the lead investigator in the case, testified the boot appeared to be simply worn out and said there was no evidence of bite marks, specifically noting there was no blood or saliva on the boot.
Opinski also said images taken from a surveillance camera indicated the dog was retreating from the two men and tried to hide behind some garbage cans. “It appeared the dog was running away with its tail between its legs,” Opinski testified.
The officer said the video showed the Clendenins move the garbage cans and begin “poking” the dog with a stick. He said the younger Clendenin then stood on the dog’s neck while his father struck the dog more than 10 times with an object.
The object in question has previously been described as a baseball bat; however, there were no references to baseball bats in court Monday.
Thomas Min, the deputy district attorney prosecuting both animal cruelty cases, said there was evidence that one of the defendants was heard to say “we finally got that” animal and made a remark about having it “stuffed and mounted.” Min also said the evidence showed the dog tried to run away, was pursued and then beaten to death.
“That doesn’t sound like self-defense,” Min argued Monday.
The judge agreed there was enough evidence to order both men to stand trial. The Clendenins are due back in court June 25 for arraignment.