Case Snapshot
Case ID: 4829
Classification: Beating
Animal: dog (non pit-bull)
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Abuse was retaliation against animal's bad behavior
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Wednesday, Jun 15, 2005

County: Rock

Disposition: Convicted

Defendant/Suspect: Leo Hertel

Case Updates: 1 update(s) available

Leo Hertel, 66, of Beloit man has been charged with felony animal mistreatment. Rock County Sheriff's deputies said Leo Hertel tied a dog to a tree and beat it with a baseball bat.

Hertel claims he was punishing the dog for biting someone.

Witnesses to the violent act called police.

Veterinarians treating the dog say it has a fractured skill, broken jaw and may lose its sight.

Case Updates

A Beloit man who severely beat a dog with a baseball bat will serve probation, and cannot own pets for three years, as a result of the crime.

Leo Hertel, 67, sat hunched over with his hand fidgeting by his mouth during much of Monday's hearing in Rock County court. While he could have spent time in jail for the felony mistreatment of animals charge, the plea agreement jointly recommended sentence be withheld and probation imposed for Hertel, who had no criminal history before these incidents.

Hertel's attorney Derrick Grubb said Hertel agreed to plead guilty to mistreatment of animals and no contest to a separate misdemeanor domestic battery charge. In exchange, several other charges would be dismissed but read in for consideration.

These charges included domestic disorderly conduct, for threatening his wife with the bat when she tried to help the dog in the June 14 incident, and disorderly conduct and resisting, for a later incident at the courthouse when Hertel locked himself in a conference room and refused to leave.

Part of the agreed on conditions of probation were that Hertel have no pets during this period, participate in all treatment and counseling required and take necessary medications.

Hertel has been evaluated by Mendota Mental Health twice since the June 14 incident in the Town of Beloit. On Nov. 17 he was found competent to assist his attorney in the court proceedings, Grubb said.

In response to questions from Judge Alan Bates, Hertel agreed he understood the proceedings and what he was giving up by pleading to the charges. When asked how he pleaded to the mistreatment of animals charge he blankly said "not guilty," but after a pause, he corrected himself and pleaded "guilty."

To the battery charge, Hertel pleaded no contest, and a guilty plea was entered on his behalf. A pre-sentence investigation on the felony was waived.

Assistant District Attorney Mark Jahnke said ADA Joanne Evans and Deputy District Attorney Perry Folts agreed that in light of Hertel's mental health issues and conduct, which was "serious and concerning," the probation recommendation would address the problem by ensuring he gets the treatment he needs.

Grubb said his client, who has been in custody for 154 days between jail and two stints at Mendota, has spent a significant time in custody and is now getting treatment for the mental health issues he was not "fully aware of" at the time of the attack. He too recommended probation with the treatment requirement.

Bates acknowledged Hertel's lack of prior criminal history, "but on the other side of the ledger, his victims here are both (victims) the law takes particular pains to protect," Bates said.

He pointed out that the dog, an adult Shepherd mix named Princess, was particularly defenseless.

"We are stewards of the pets we choose to own," Bates said.

Court documents indicate Hertel tied the dog to a pole then beat her severely with a baseball bat, breaking her jaw and damaging an eye. Humane Society Operations Manager Jim Hurley, who responded to care for the dog after police were called, likened the dog's injuries to being hit by a semi and said he'd never seen an animal hurt this badly by human force.

The dog survived the attack but required surgery, and Hertel's wife Larona was undertaking the expenses. She is currently in divorce proceedings with Hertel and was granted a temporary restraining order after the incident.

Bates said he has to balance the severity of the offense with Hertel's lack of criminal history, and said probation was probably appropriate, but the conditions of probation had to protect people and animals which the recommendations did.

"Mr. Hertel, I hope that you've been able through the mental health system to identify any problems you have," Bates said.

With that hope, and the confidence Hertel was going to take charge of his life and not allow any repeat incidents, Bates stayed a sentence on mistreatment of animals and imposed three years of probation. He also stayed a sentence on the domestic battery charge and imposed 18 months probation.

The sentences are concurrent and Hertel must follow the recommended terms of probation.

Also, he must pay $41 restitution for the battery and perform 45 hours of community service for the mistreatment of animals offense.
Source: Beloit Daily News - Nov 29, 2005
Update posted on Nov 30, 2005 - 11:10PM 


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