Case Snapshot
Case ID: 19311
Classification: Shooting, Burning - Fire or Fireworks
Animal: dog (non pit-bull)
More cases in Limestone County, AL
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Abuse was retaliation against animal's bad behavior
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Attorneys/Judges
Judge(s): Jeanne Anderson


For more information about the Interactive Animal Cruelty Maps, see the map notes.



Tuesday, Jan 10, 2012

County: Limestone

Disposition: Alleged

Alleged: Jimmy Tunstill

Case Updates: 2 update(s) available

A Limestone County woman says her dog was shot and burned to death because of a feud between neighbors.

The dog's owner, Brandy Gatlin, found her dog, Mitzy, shot and burned in a pile of debris at her neighbor's home. The homeowner said he had ever right to shoot the dog.

"He was trying to get into the chicken pen it looked like, so I shot it," said Jimmy Tunstill.

Gatlin believes Tunstill should face animal cruelty charges.

"He shouldn't have done that, he should have just let me know she was over there messing with something," said Gatlin.

Tunstill said he didn't know what else to do to stop damage to his property. He claims he has had trouble with Gatlin and her dogs for at least four years.

Tunstill filed reports with the sheriff's office and called animal control to trap the neighbor's dogs many times.

"I didn't want it to come to this, I've been trying to avoid it but I've got to do something," said Tunstill.

Limestone County Sheriff Mike Blakely said state law does require pet owners and livestock owners to keep them on their property. If there is a threat to a homeowner's property or safety, then a person has a right to protect themselves.

Blakely said concealing the shooting by burning the dog could lead to charges. He said Tunstill could be arrested and so could Gatlin because her dog was on her neighbor's property.

Sheriff Blakely said concerned neighbors can file a report with the sheriff's department or animal control and the pet owner will be notified to keep their animal on the property. If it happens after the warning, the homeowner can file another report and a warrant could be issued for the animal owner's arrest.

Sheriff Blakely said a simple solution to this problem is buying a fence.


Case Updates

A Madison man accused of fatally shooting a neighbor's puppy and then trying to dispose of its body by burning it is scheduled for a bench trial May 2 in Limestone County District Court, records show.

Jimmy Tunstill, 61, of 10800 Cedar Acres Lane, is accused of shooting 6-month-old "Mitzy," a black Labrador retriever owned by neighbors Billy Gatlin and his daughter, Brandi.

Both Tunstill and Billy Gatlin, 44, of 10820 Cedar Acres Lane, were arraigned this week before District Judge Jeanne Anderson on separate charges in the case.

Limestone County Sheriff Mike Blakely said in January Tunstill told officials he shot the puppy Tuesday, Jan. 10, because he believed it was trying to get into the pen containing his chickens. Tunstill also admitted burning the dead puppy on a brush pile near his home in order to conceal its death from his neighbors, the sheriff said.

Sheriff's deputies were called to the Gatlin home about 5:15 p.m. that day by Gatlin and his daughter, who wanted to report animal cruelty in the shooting and burning of their puppy. After reporting their puppy missing, the Gatlins had called the Sheriff's Department after finding the dog's remains on Tunstill's brush pile. Blakely confirmed there had been an "ongoing problem" with the Gatlins' puppy entering Tunstill's property and that Tunstill had reported the puppy to animal-control officers in the past. According to Gatlins' statements filed with the court, Brandi stated she had asked Tunstill earlier in the day if he had seen the puppy and he said he had not. Billy stated Tunstill had called animal control about the puppy that day, that an animal-control officer had brought out a trap and that the puppy was all right when the officer was there.

Sheriff's officials investigated the complaint but made no arrests. Instead, they filed a report with a recommendation and let the District Court judge decide what charges, if any, should be brought. Tunstill was subsequently charged with failing to bury livestock and Billy Gatlin was charged with permitting a puppy to run at large, records show.

Tunstill is accused of violating the law for burning the dead animal near his home, not for shooting it. The law reads: "No such animal shall be burned or buried sufficiently near a residence or residences as to create a nuisance. Any person violating this section, whether by failure to burn or bury an animal dying or being killed in his possession or by causing the same to be burned in such proximity to a dwelling or in such other way as to become a nuisance shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and, on conviction, shall be fined not more than $50."

Records show Tunstill's trial is a bench trial, which means the judge will hear evidence and decide guilt or innocence; there will be no jury.
Source: enewscourier.com - Feb 18, 2012
Update posted on Feb 19, 2012 - 6:12PM 
"Mr. Tunstill, can we give you the opportunity to give us your side of the story?" That's the question WAAY31 FirstNews put to Jimmy Tunstill as he exited the courtroom. "No thank you, Sir," Tunstill repied. He kept right on walking as his wife, Carol, used her jacket to hide her face.

But, after deciding to take the elevator instead of the stairs, Tunstill turned around and came back. For a second time, he walked right past our WAAY31 FirstNews camera. So, we asked, "You did admit that you killed and burned the dog -- can you just tell us why you did that?"
Silence.

Tunstill's next door neighbor says the man's bite is worse than his silent bark.

"It hurt me (Tunstill) killing my dog," Brandi Gatlin told WAAY31 FirstNews. "It hurt me worse him burning her."

In January, we talked with Brandi right after she found her 6-month-old puppy dead. Mitzy's body was burning on a pile of trash.

The report from the Limestone Sheriff's office states Tunstill admitted to shooting the dog then setting it on fire.

"Yeah, he admitted to the police to it," Brandi told us. "He said he felt bad because he killed my dog and I guess he wanted to get rid of the evidence. That's why he burned it."

Inside the Limestone County courthouse, both men stood before District Judge Jeanne Anderson. Each had separate arraignments on different charges.

Anderson told Tunstill he'll have to stand trial for killing and burning Mitzi. The charge? Failure to Bury Livestock.

Brandi's dad, Luke Gatlin, has his own charges to defend. The judge arraigned him on the charge of Permitting a Dog to Run at Large.

Brandi wants her neighbor to face justice for killing Mitzy.

"I hope they put him in jail or something. I mean if he did it to my dog and he gets away with it, he'd do it to another one, you know."
Source: waaytv.com - Feb 17, 2012
Update posted on Feb 19, 2012 - 5:58PM 

References

« AL State Animal Cruelty Map
« More cases in Limestone County, AL

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