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Jail time given in dog case

Published 12:01am Sunday, March 31, 2013

CHESAPEAKE — A woman admitted to abandoning her puppy and lying to police about her identity Friday in Lawrence County Municipal Court, but still denies she abused the animal by throwing it out of a moving vehicle.

“I’ve done a lot of things in my time, but I did not throw the dog out of the window,” Jennifer Edmonds said.

Edmonds, 37, of 1125 St. Christopher Drive, Russell, Ky., pleaded guilty to animal abandonment, a second-degree misdemeanor, and falsification, a first-degree misdemeanor. Edmonds pleaded no contest to a count of animal cruelty, but Judge Donald Capper said he couldn’t accept the plea since she denied throwing her dog out of the vehicle and a brief trial was held.

The charges stem from an eyewitness account that Edmonds tossed a Chihuahua-mix puppy out of the window on a vehicle she was the passenger in while it was traveling down U.S. 52 in South Point.

The eyewitness, Chris Hutchinson of Chesapeake, took photos of the vehicle’s plates and called 911 to report the incident.

The driver of the vehicle, Joshua Phillips, 33, of the same address, was arrested the next day in the parking lot at Country Hearth Inn in South Point. Phillips was found asleep in the car when Lawrence County Sheriff’s Deputies arrived.

Edmonds was questioned as well but lied about her name. A day later, authorities returned and she was arrested for an outstanding warrant in Kentucky.

In court, Edmonds insisted the dog, which she called Monster, jumped off her lap and out of the window while she and her boyfriend were stopped on the side of the highway arguing.

During the trial, Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Mack Anderson called Hutchinson to the stand to explain what he saw.

Hutchinson said he saw the black Cadillac Escalade that Edmonds and Phillips were in slow down to what he estimated to be about 10 miles per hour on U.S. 52 near the Solida Road exit. As he went around the vehicle, Hutchinson said he turned as well, looked in his rear and side view mirrors and saw what he first thought was a woman throwing trash out of the window. Then he saw a dog roll on the ground.

“I saw her arms physically go out the window and push,” Hutchinson said.

Hutchinson has since adopted the puppy and calls it Tango.

Edmonds, represented by attorney J.T. Holt, told a different story. Holt asked her why she pleaded guilty to animal abandonment.

“Because I did leave Monster,” she said.

Edmonds said she and Phillips were arguing, stopped on the side of the road, when a man in another car started yelling at them that he was going to call the police. Edmonds said that’s when the dog jumped out and they drove away because she and Phillips both had warrants out for their arrest.

Edmonds also said the puppy was well taken care of and not abused while in her care.

Later, Anderson asked Edmonds why she never went back to look for the puppy.

“We heard it was on the news,” she said. “… The dog was in good hands. We already knew we were going to jail.”

Anderson asked that Edmonds be sentenced to 90 days in jail for each count, to be run concurrently. The time would also run concurrently with any sentence in Kentucky.

“I don’t think you even have to be a dog-lover to be offended by this,” Anderson said.

“I think Mr. Hutchinson’s testimony is more believable,” Capper said and agreed with the recommended sentenced.

Capper also ordered Edmonds to be returned to Ohio if her sentence in Kentucky is shorter than 90 days. He also ordered her to complete 60 hours of community service.

“I think the judge gave her what she deserved,” Hutchinson said after the trial. “He saw that the dog didn’t jump.”

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