Case Snapshot
Case ID: 18815
Classification: Mutilation/Torture, Hanging, Beating
Animal: dog (non pit-bull)
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Drugs or alcohol involved
Animal was bound
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Attorneys/Judges
Prosecutor(s): Pete Hautzinger
Defense(s): Megan Marlatt
Judge(s): Kevin Kennedy, Thomas Deister, Richard Gurley


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Sunday, Aug 14, 2011

County: Mesa

Charges: Felony CTA
Disposition: Convicted

Defendant/Suspect: Joseph Stephen Nelson

Case Updates: 2 update(s) available

A teenager is accused of mutilating a dog and hanging its carcass from the pedestrian bridge over the Colorado River near Eagle Rim Park, according to an arrest affidavit.

Joseph Nelson, 18, was being held Wednesday at the Mesa County Jail on $3,000 bond on suspicion of aggravated cruelty to animals, criminal mischief and being a minor in possession of alcohol. The charges stemmed from the death of his mother's dog, a 3-year-old mix named De Mayo, in August.

Nelson, who turned 18 on Oct. 23, was arrested Tuesday at the Grand Junction Police Department when he showed up at the department for an interview about the incident, police spokeswoman Kate Porras said.

A passerby around 6:25 a.m. on Aug. 15 discovered the dog hanging by a nylon leash from the bridge, the affidavit said. Blood was smeared on the concrete close to the dog, whose internal organs were exposed by a suspected knife laceration along the abdomen. An eyeball was missing, the affidavit said.

An officer recalled Nelson and another boy were contacted around 11:35 p.m. the night before, on Aug. 14, by officers responding to a shots fired call in the 1000 block of Santa Clara Avenue, the affidavit said. The boys had blood on their hands and clothes, while both had pocket knives with blood on them. They explained they cut themselves while opening a bottle and were let go.

Officers on Sept. 20 tracked down the boy who was with Nelson. The boy told officers he and Nelson had been drinking the night of Aug. 14.

Nelson "became extremely angry and agitated because he was contacted by police," the affidavit said. The boy said they went to the home of Nelson's mother, where Nelson broke out windows on several cars. Nelson walked inside the home and started hitting the dog, then put a leash on it and took it to the backyard, the boy told police.

"Nelson was still in a fit of rage and began swinging the dog on the dog leash, causing the dog to be hit against a shed," the affidavit said.

The boy said he watched this happen 10 to 12 times until Nelson stopped when he got tired. The dog was kicked numerous times. The boy said Nelson picked up a bicycle and threw it on the dog.

"(Boy) told me Nelson's actions severely upset him, and he tried stopping Nelson when he was swinging the dog, but Nelson grew angry at him and started pushing and kicking him in the ribs," the affidavit said.

Nelson's mother told police her son was heavily involved with methamphetamine use and said she didn't know where he stays.

The roughly 20-pound dog was a breed combination of miniature pinscher, Jack Russell terrier and Chi-weenie and was worth about $100, the woman told officers.

Among conditions for posting bond, Nelson will be subject to random alcohol and drug testing by Mesa County Pretrial Services, according to court records.


Case Updates

A Grand Junction teenager faces probation for mutilating his mother's dog and hanging its carcass from a bridge over the Colorado River.

A plea agreement struck Thursday with the Mesa County District Attorney's Office calls for 18-year-old Joseph Nelson to be sentenced to probation. Nelson pleaded guilty to aggravated cruelty to animals, a class 6 felony, while prosecutors dismissed remaining charges, including minor in possession of alcohol.

The terms and length of Nelson's probation will be determined by District Judge Richard Gurley.

Nelson was arrested on a warrant in November, seven days after his 18th birthday, in connection with the death of his mother's 20-pound, mixed-breed dog. The dog was found by a passerby on the morning of Aug. 15, 2011, hanging by its leash from the pedestrian bridge near Eagle Rim Park.

The dog's internal organs were cut out, and an eyeball was missing, according to an arrest affidavit.

A friend of Nelson's told police Nelson was enraged after being contacted by officers on Aug. 14 for an unrelated incident, the affidavit said. The friend told police Nelson swung the dog by the leash, slammed it into a backyard shed 10 to 12 times, kicked it and threw a bicycle on top of it several times.

Nelson's mother told police her son was heavily involved with methamphetamine use, the affidavit said.

District Attorney Pete Hautzinger in January moved to direct file in Nelson's case. Direct file is the legal mechanism by which juveniles are charged with adult felonies.

Nelson's plea deal comes as legislation awaits the signature of Gov. John Hickenlooper prohibiting prosecutors from filing charges similar to those in the case of Nelson.

Under House Bill 1271, which passed the Legislature earlier this month, prosecutors' authority to direct file will be restricted to the most serious crimes, Class 1 or 2 felonies, such as murders and violent sex offenses.

Nelson, who is free on bond, will be sentenced June 22.
Source: GJ Sentinel
Update posted on Apr 22, 2012 - 6:11PM 
A Grand Junction teenager accused of mutilating a dog and hanging its carcass from a public bridge over the Colorado River will be prosecuted as an adult, the Mesa County District Attorney's Office said Tuesday.

Joseph Nelson, 18, who appeared free on bond Tuesday before Magistrate Kevin Kennedy, was ordered to appear later this month before District Judge Thomas Deister for advisement on adult charges of aggravated cruelty to animals and being a minor in possession of alcohol.

District Attorney Pete Hautzinger said he had been "leaning strongly" toward pressing adult charges against Nelson, whose alleged crime happened when he was 17. Nelson turned 18 on Oct. 23, and he was arrested on a Grand Junction Police Department warrant seven days later.

"I wanted to give him and his lawyers every opportunity to present arguments in opposition to (juvenile direct file)," Hautzinger said, when asked about the delay since Nelson's arrest.

Adult charges are justified because of the nature of the alleged crime and Nelson's criminal history, Hautzinger said.

Public defender Megan Marlatt, Nelson's attorney, told Kennedy she was "surprised" by the filing of adult charges.

"(Nelson) has been fully compliant while on bond," Marlatt said.

Nelson is under the supervision of Mesa County Pre-Trial Services.

Nelson is suspected in the death of his mother's 20-pound mix-breed dog, which was discovered Aug. 15 hanging by its leash from the pedestrian river bridge near Eagle Rim Park. The dog's internal organs had been cut out, and an eyeball was missing, according to an arrest affidavit.

A friend of Nelson's told police that Nelson became enraged after being contacted by Grand Junction police officers Aug. 14 in connection with an unrelated incident, the affidavit said.

Nelson swung his mother's dog repeatedly by the leash, slamming it into a backyard shed some "10 to 12 times" before kicking it and throwing a bicycle on top of the dog, the affidavit said.
Source: gjsentinel.com - Jan 25, 2012
Update posted on Jan 25, 2012 - 6:24PM 

References

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