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Friday, Mar 22, 2013County: Osage
Charges: Felony CTA
Alleged: Leon Pearson O'Neal
A candidate for Skiatook city council was charged Thursday with one count of cruelty to animals, a prosecutor said.
Leon Pearson O'Neal, 51, was arraigned on the felony charge in Osage County District Court, said Rex Duncan, district attorney for Osage and Pawnee counties.
Prosecutors allege that on March 22, O'Neal "willfully and maliciously" shot a .22-caliber rifle at stray dogs across the street from his home in the 600 block of West Fifth Street in Skiatook, striking a pet dog in a fenced backyard.
The crime is punishable, upon conviction, by up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $500.
O'Neal received a one-year deferred sentence after being charged with cruelty to animals in 2005, according to reports.
O'Neal is among three candidates on Tuesday's ballot for an at-large council seat in Skiatook.
At about 8:50 a.m. March 22, James Brooks told police, his dogs were in his backyard barking and he looked out from his laundry room and saw two stray dogs outside his fence. Brooks said he saw O'Neal standing by his front door with a rifle pointed toward the stray dogs, and heard three shots.
Police went to the scene and picked up a spent .22-caliber cartridge on the ground where Brooks said O'Neal had fired the gun, records show. Later that morning, Brooks found that one of his dogs, a black Labrador retriever, was bleeding from its right temple area, reports indicate.
"I shot toward them and down," O'Neal said in a phone interview Wednesday. "I didn't try to hit them as much as I tried to scare them away. They were coming at me. I have the right to stand my ground and defend myself and shoot that thing."
No bullet or bullet fragments were recovered from the black Lab during surgery, police said.
"There are no dogs that got shot," O'Neal said. "... Nothing was recovered. It was just a dog bite as far as I can tell. If I'd shot that dude in the head with a .22, I assure you the dog would be dead."
A Skiatook animal control officer told police he located two dogs running down the street at large and that they did not appear to be aggressive.
Brooks told authorities that three of his dogs had been shot in the past, one fatally.
Seized from O'Neal's home during the execution of a search warrant Friday were several .22-caliber rifles and ammunition, records show.
Also placed into evidence were a .22-caliber cartridge recovered from the front door area of O'Neal's residence and a .22-caliber round recovered from Brooks' dog on Jan. 27.
- Tulsa World - March 29, 2013
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