Case Snapshot
Case ID: 6856
Classification: Shooting
Animal: dog (pit-bull)
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Animal was offleash or loose
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Monday, Dec 26, 2005

County: Pima

Charges: Felony CTA
Disposition: Convicted
Case Images: 3 files available

Defendants/Suspects:
» Justin Daniel Curren
» Deborah Linda Curren - Dismissed (Conditional)
» Steven Glenn Sharpe

Case Updates: 10 update(s) available

Charges have been dropped against Justin Daniel Curren for lack of sufficient evidence. Lawyers say new charges may be filed later.

Justin Daniel Curren, 19, was booked into the Pima County jail on January 4, 2006 after detectives received a tip that he was involved in the shooting, said Marsh Myers, a spokesman for the Animal Cruelty Taskforce of Southern Arizona. Curren's dog was found bleeding and in shock in the Redington Pass area on Dec. 26, 2005.

The dog, shot multiple times, is now recovering at the Humane Society of Arizona. Investigators named the dog Bullet after the large number of wounds. "I've never seen a dog with this many wounds that wasn't dead," said sheriff's Detective Mike Duffey.

Curren was arrested at his home in the 3900 block of East Fairmount Street, Duffey said. The department and the Humane Society had received a tip after broadcasting a plea to help solve the case. Duffey said when investigators went to the home, Curren's mother confirmed the dog was theirs. He said they also noticed multiple pit bulls at the house that looked like Bullet.

Duffey said they tried to interview Curren but that he is not talking or answering questions.They do not know what motive he may have had. Investigators are also looking for a second suspect, Duffey said.

Anyone with information about the shooting is asked to call 88-CRIME. Callers should refer to the Pima County sheriff's case number 051228053.


Case Updates

Charges against a woman involved in the December 2005 shooting of a pit bull have been dismissed by a judge in Tucson.

44-year-old Deborah Curren had been charged with conspiracy to commit cruel mistreatment of an animal and first-degree hindering prosecution.

But prosecutors asked that the charges be dropped because Curren complied with conditions they had set, which included having her pets spayed and attending a Humane Society class on proper pet care.

Curren's son and another man pleaded guilty earlier this year in the case to cruel mistreatment of an animal. Both were given 30 days in jail and three years probation.
Source: KVOA News - May 15, 2007
Update posted on May 17, 2007 - 2:28PM 
A second Tucson man has been sentenced to 30 days in jail and three years probation for his role in the shooting of Bullet, a pit bull found injured in the Redington Pass area Dec. 26, 2005.

Justin Curren, 20, pleaded guilty in January to cruel mistreatment of an animal and was sentenced this morning in Pima County Superior Court.

On Feb. 21, his co-defendent Steve Glenn Sharpe, 28, was also sentenced for the same charge is is serving his 30-day sentence.

Superior Court spokesman Dave Ricker said Curren is ordered to turn himself into the Pima County Jail on Wednesday to serve his sentence.

Curren's mother, Deborah Curren, 44, is scheduled to go on trial May 15 on charges of conspiracy to commit cruel mistreatment of an animal and first-degree hindering prosecution.

Prosecutors said the dog was shot 12 times after the Currens and Sharpe sought to have someone take the dog, which they considered vicious, and when no one came, they sought to euthanize him themselves. All three lived in the 3900 block of East Fairmount Street, near North Alvernon Way and East Pima Street.

Bullet recovered from his injuries, but was euthanized Feb. 15.

"His behavior had changed dramatically over a few days and the vets that I consulted with felt that due to the trauma he has experienced repeatedly caused a change in his brain chemistry," said Debora Hogan, who was taking care of Bullet.

Jill Wohlfeil, spokeswoman for the Humane Society of Southern Arizona, said the veterinarians determined that Bullet had become more aggressive, that his condition was untreatable and that it would be more humane to euthanize him.
Source: Tucson Citizen - Feb 26, 2007
Update posted on Feb 26, 2007 - 10:38PM 
On Tuesday, February 20, a man who pleaded guilty to repeatedly shooting a dog in 2005 was sentenced to three years probation and ordered to serve 30 days in jail.

Steven Sharpe, 28, was also ordered Tuesday to pay $1,846 in restitution, attend animal-cruelty prevention classes and was prohibited from acquiring new pets.

Authorities said Sharpe and his neighbors, Deborah and Justin Curren were arrested in February 2005, several weeks after a 2-year-old pit-bull mix was found suffering from gunshot wounds.

Justin Curren told police he and his mother decided their dog was so vicious he needed to be put down. The trio fed the dog morphine-laced pumpkin pie, but when he didn't die Justin Curren and Sharpe tied the dog to a tree and fired at him. The dog broke free and survived.

Justin Curren's sentencing is scheduled for Monday, February 26.

Deborah Curren, who is charged with conspiracy to commit animal cruelty and hindering prosecution, is to stand trial on May 15.
Source: Arizona Daily Star - 2/21/07
Update posted on Feb 21, 2007 - 12:54PM 
A pit bull who was shot multiple times is up for adoption. Tucson dog trainer Debora Hogan is fostering Bullet after his adoptive mom was forced to give him up because she took a job in Phoenix.

"He's a sweetheart," Hogan said. "I really want to find him a permanent place, because he's been swapped around so much."

Bullet doesn't always get along with cats and sometimes growls at men, but Hogan said he's otherwise good-tempered.

"He needs someone who is going to be around all day to spend time with him, not put him in a crate all day," Hogan said.

Those interested should send an e-mail to Hogan, debora1117@earthlink.net.

Bullet was found with multiple gunshot wounds Dec. 26, 2005, in the Redington Pass area.

Justin Curren, 20, and Steve Glenn Sharpe, 28, pleaded guilty in Pima County Superior Court to cruel mistreatment in Bullet's shooting. They will be sentenced Feb. 20.

Deborah Curren, 44, is scheduled to go on trial May 15 on charges of conspiracy to commit cruel mistreatment of an animal and first-degree hindering prosecution.

Thousands of pit bulls are euthanized each year in Pima County because there are not enough homes for them, according to the Humane Society of Southern Arizona.
Source: Tucson Citizen - Feb 1, 2007
Update posted on Feb 1, 2007 - 2:25PM 
Justin Curren, 20, has pleaded guilty to animal cruelty and could receive three years' probation or up to two years in prison as a result of his guilty plea Tuesday.

If he's given probation, Curren also would receive up to 30 days in jail and be subject to unannounced visits from animal-control officers after he's released.

According to the Pima County Sheriff's Department, Curren and his mother decided to get rid of their 2-year-old pit-bull mix in 2005 because they thought the dog was vicious.

Curren and Steven Glenn Sharpe, 28, were accused of taking the dog into the desert and shooting the animal repeatedly.

The dog survived and the two men were indicted after detectives received a tip and subsequent DNA testing linked the dog to other dogs owned by the Currens.

Sharpe entered the same plea deal given to Curren. The two men are scheduled to be sentenced Feb. 20.

Deborah Curren, 44, turned down a plea agreement in the case and her trial is scheduled for May.
Source: KVOA - Jan 10, 2007
Update posted on Jan 11, 2007 - 1:25AM 
One of three people accused of animal cruelty in a high-profile dog-shooting case pleaded guilty Thursday to cruel mistreatment of an animal.

Steven Glenn Sharpe, 28, entered the plea agreement in Pima County Superior Court that could net him three years probation or up to two years in prison.

If he receives probation and successfully completes it, Sharpe's conviction would be designated a misdemeanor.

According to the Pima County Sheriff's Department, Deborah Linda Curren, 44, and her son, Justin Daniel Curren, 20, decided to get rid of their 2-year-old pit-bull mix, Knuckles, on Dec. 26, 2005, because they thought he was vicious.

The Currens and Sharpe, who was their neighbor, set out in their car for the Humane Society of Arizona.

Officials said the three, fearing they would get in trouble for drugging the dog with morphine, changed their mind about going to the Humane Society.

The men took Deborah Curren home and then drove to Redington Pass.

According to authorities, the men tied Knuckles to a tree and started shooting. When the dog got loose, they chased him, but couldn't find him.

They returned to the car to find the dog there, they shot at him again and the dog ran off again.

A dirt-bike rider found Knuckles and took him to a veterinarian.

Detectives dubbed him "Bullet" because of bullet fragments stuck under his skin.

An 88-CRIME tip led detectives to the Currens and a DNA test linked the dog to other dogs in the Curren home.

Authorities said Sharpe admitted his involvement to the police after his home was searched. He and the Currens were indicted shortly thereafter.

Justin Curren and Sharpe were each charged with two counts of felony animal cruelty and one count of conspiracy to commit animal cruelty.

Deborah Linda Curren, 43, is charged with conspiracy to commit animal cruelty and hindering prosecution.

Deborah Curren turned down a plea agreement Thursday. Her trial is scheduled for May 15.

Justin Curren is to announce today if he will accept a plea agreement.

After spending time with an animal behaviorist, Bullet was adopted, said Jami McDowell, a cruelty-prevention coordinator for the Humane Society of Southern Arizona.

Sharpe will be sentenced Feb. 20.
Source: AZ Star - Jan 5, 2007
Update posted on Jan 5, 2007 - 11:46PM 
The owner of "Bullet", the owner's mother and their next door neighbor are charged with conspiracy to commit animal cruelty. The owner, Justin Curren, and his neighbor, Steve Sharpe, face two additional counts of animal cruelty.

Authorities arrested Curren back in January, but he was released because the judge didn't think there was enough evidence to hold him.

Then, all three were indicted last Friday. Late this afternoon, sheriff's deputies announced the charges, and said this case is historic because it's the first time animal DNA testing was used to solve the case.

Bullet is making a remarkable recovery and should be ready to be adopted out by the end of this week.
Source: KOLD - March 3, 2006
Update posted on Mar 6, 2006 - 4:42AM 
Before he became known to Tucson as "Bullet," the dog who was rescued after being shot near Redington Pass was Knuckles, an unwanted family pet, officials said Wednesday.

Now his owners and their neighbor are facing animal-cruelty-related charges in the case of the 2-year-old pit-bull mix. The three were indicted on Friday, said Pima County Sheriff's Sgt. Cathryn Payette.

Since the investigation first was publicized, the department has received hundreds of calls, letters and e-mails expressing outrage at the incident, said Sheriff's Department Bureau Chief George Heaney.

The dog's owner, Justin Daniel Curren, 19, and his neighbor, Steven Glenn Sharpe, 27, are each charged with two counts of felony animal cruelty and one count of conspiracy to commit animal cruelty.

Curren's mother, Deborah Linda Curren, 43, is charged with conspiracy to commit animal cruelty and hindering prosecution. All three will be given a court date, but they were not taken into custody.

On Dec. 26, the Currens and Sharpe decided to get rid of the dog because he was "vicious," said Detective Therese Deschenes, the lead investigator.

The three loaded the dog into a car and headed to the Humane Society of Southern Arizona, but on their way, they changed their minds about giving the dog to authorities, she said. They had drugged the dog with morphine and believed they would get in trouble, she said.

The two men took Deborah Curren home, changed cars, loaded their guns and drove the dog to Redington Pass, Deschenes said.

Once they parked, she said, they walked 30 yards to a tree, tied up the dog, backed off and started shooting.

They went back to the car to reload, and the dog got loose and ran off, she said. Curren and Sharpe chased him but couldn't find the animal.

Then, when they returned to the car, they found the dog waiting there. He was obviously injured, and there was blood everywhere, Deschenes said.

They shot at the dog again, she said, and the animal took off down the road.

Curren and Sharpe got into the car and drove past the pet, and "knowing he was still alive," left him behind, Deschenes said.

The dog was found that same day by a dirt bike rider, who took him to a veterinarian. Detectives dubbed him "Bullet" because of bullet fragments stuck under his skin.

For two weeks, detectives didn't have any suspects, Deschenes said. Then an 88-CRIME tip led them to the Curren house, in the 3900 block of East Fairmont Street, near East Speedway and North Alvernon Way.

Deborah Curren denied the dog belonged to her family and "stonewalled" detectives, Payette said.

Justin Curren was arrested, but a judge dismissed his charges and told detectives to return with more evidence.

Animal DNA testing - used by the Sheriff's Department for the first time - proved Bullet belonged to the Currens because it matched the DNA of another dog at the house and her three 6-month-old puppies, Detective Mike Duffey said.

The mother dog and puppies were impounded but then returned to the Currens because they showed no signs of abuse or neglect, he said.

After detectives searched his home on Feb. 10, Sharpe admitted his involvement to Deschenes. The detectives returned to court and won the Friday indictment against the Currens and Sharpe.

Since the dog has been in custody, he's mostly shown a good temperament, said Marsh Myers, a spokesman for the Humane Society of Southern Arizona, where Bullet has been recovering.

The dog has shown aggression, especially toward adult men, by growling and putting his ears back, Myers said, but he has shown progress with a dog trainer and could be up for adoption soon.
Source: AZ Star - Feb 23, 2006
Update posted on Feb 24, 2006 - 7:40PM 
A dog authorities say was used as target practice has nearly recovered from the attack, as authorities continue to gather more evidence in the case.
Detectives have said the male pit-bull mix, dubbed "Bullet," suffered at least five gunshot wounds when someone shot him around Dec. 26 in the Redington Pass recreation area.

Since then, detectives with the Animal Cruelty Taskforce of Southern Arizona made one arrest, but charges were dropped.

They also searched a suspect's home earlier this month and seized five guns, but more ballistics testing will be required to link them to the crime. No new charges have been filed.

Bullet, who had been impounded as evidence since he was rescued by a dirt-bike rider, soon may be up for adoption at the Humane Society of Southern Arizona, said Marsh Myers, a Taskforce spokesman.

Although there are still bullet fragments in his body, Bullet's medical condition is stable and veterinarians have determined it would be easier on the dog to allow the bullets to work their way out of his body rather than operating on the 2-year-old dog.

"We were hoping to have him up for adoption sooner, but we had some concerns about his temperament," Myers said. "Because of what he had gone through, obviously he was having some issues, especially around adult men and smaller animals, being very aggressive toward them."

The Humane Society placed Bullet into an intensive behavior-modification program with a local dog trainer, who on Monday told Myers the dog is doing well and not showing aggression, he said.

There still is an open animal-cruelty investigation in Bullet's case.

The owner of the dog, Justin Daniel Curren, 19, was arrested on suspicion of felony animal cruelty on Jan. 4, but the charge was dismissed that night. A judge told detectives they needed to provide more evidence, Myers said at the time.

A search-warrant affidavit shows detectives believe one or more people shot the dog "for no particular reason."

On Feb. 10, detectives following new leads searched a house in the 3900 block of East Fairmont Street, near East Speedway and North Alvernon Way.

Detectives seized three handguns, a long gun, a rifle, containers of cartridges and a box of fireworks, according to an inventory list filed in Pima County Superior Court.

Anyone with information about the shooting is asked to call 911 or 88-CRIME, the anonymous tip line of the Pima County Attorney's Office. A $1,000 reward is offered for information that leads to an arrest and indictment.
Source: Arizona Star - Feb 22, 2006
Update posted on Feb 22, 2006 - 12:36AM 
Authorities believe one or more people used the 2-year-old, black-and-white, male pit-bull mix as a target for
handguns. Authorities also impounded a female dog and three 6-month-old puppies sired by Bullet from Curren's home. Bullet was bloody and limping down the road to Tucson when Rebecca Dales,, 32, found him as she rode her dirt bike. He'd walked at least a mile from where he was shot and just lay down when she walked up to him, she said. She told her husband to call authorities and then tried to comfort the dog, giving him water to wash his bloody mouth and nose. Several more people stopped to help Bullet. An unknown medic with the Air National Guard retrieved bandages from his vehicle and tried to stop Bullet's bleeding. And a couple in a truck offered to take Bullet to a veterinarian. "If he could live, I wanted to make sure I got him the care he needed,"
Dales said. She helped the dog into the bed of the truck and, after a ride of about 15 miles, Bullet arrived at Animal Emergency Service, 4832 E. Speedway. The dog was stabilized and treated with antibiotics, said Judy Parker, a veterinarian. X-rays showed bullets in his body, including some shrapnel in his nose and chest. He also had an irregular heartbeat, which probably was the result of his severe shock, she said.
"He never complained," Parker said. "He was very sweet and mellow."


Bullet is playful and sweet and gives a lot of kisses, Dales said. He knows how to sit, stay and shake. Now he has wounds in his forehead, cheek, neck, back and leg. He still has at least one bullet and several fragments in his body, said Detective Mike Duffey of the task force. The dog did well in surgery, Parker said, and the medical staff was able to remove one bullet that could be key evidence. Bullet was moved from urgent care to Humane Society foster care and then to the society's clinic, where he is receiving daily medical care, Myers said. He and the other dogs from his home will be impounded until a court releases him to his owner or adoptive owner.
Source: Az Star Net - January 6, 2006
Update posted on Jan 6, 2006 - 10:18PM 

References

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