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Saturday, Mar 18, 2006County: Herkimer
» Edward Fletcher
» Jane Fletcher
Case Updates: 10 update(s) available
An upstate woman and her son were charged with killing their four dogs by shooting and setting them on fire because they couldn't afford to feed the pets, authorities said on March 20.
Edward Fletcher, 34, of Oppenheim and his 70-year-old mother, Jane, of Little Falls, were charged with four felony counts of aggravated cruelty to animals, Fulton County Sheriff Thomas Lorey.
Both were sent to Fulton County Jail on $50,000 bail each, Lorey said.
The Fletchers, the sheriff said, decided to kill the German shepherd-mix dogs because they couldn't afford to buy them food. The younger Fletcher allegedly tied the dogs on March 18 to a post, shot them several times, then stacked their bodies in a pile and set them on fire, authorities said.
A neighbor called 911 to report the incident, which occurred on Edward Fletcher's property in the sparsely populated town of Oppenheim, about 55 miles northwest of Albany. The carcasses were still burning when deputies arrived, Lorey said.
Jane Fletcher had tried to kill the dogs by feeding them rat poison the previous week, Lorey said.
"She went to the store and bought some shotgun ammunition, came back home and asked Edward to put the dogs down, which he did one at time," Lorey said. "We've had animal abuse cases. I've never seen anything this blatant."
|The man who shot his sister's four German shepherds and then burned them in his backyard after his mother first tried to kill them with rat poison has been sentenced to 16 months in jail for his guilty plea to one count of felony aggravated animal cruelty under the state's Buster Law.|
Registered sex offender Edward Fletcher, 34, of Oppenheim was also sentenced to a three-year conditional discharge on a second count with a provision that he can't own pets or violate any laws.
Fletcher declined addressing the court before Fulton County Court Judge Polly Hoye pronounced sentencing.
He will receive credit for time served since being jailed following the March 18 incident.
Fletcher's mother, Jane, 72, of Little Falls, was sentenced in September to two years in the Fulton County Jail after pleading guilty in June to four counts of aggravated cruelty under Buster's Law, four counts of poisoning an animal, four counts of torturing an animal and one felony count of tampering with evidence. She had turned down a plea deal.
Under Buster's Law, she could have been sentenced to two years in prison per dog and a $5,000 fine.
Jane Fletcher's history of mental illness may have contributed to her actions, Fulton County Court Judge Polly Hoye said, but it didn't absolve her of her crimes. The elderly woman also has to undergo mental health treatment and she is prohibited from owning dogs for three years, the maximum by law.
The judge said that Edward Fletcher received a lesser sentence because his role in the case was less significant than his mother's.
His mother accepted full responsibility for the deaths of the dogs and has said that her son was not to blame. She claimed the family didn't have enough money to feed the four dogs in addition to her son's three children.
Her daughter maintained that her brother had shot the dogs out of mercy after discovering that his mother had given them rat poison. The tampering charge came from him pouring gasoline on the carcasses and putting them on a bonfire.
In June, Jane Fletcher's attorney had told the court that she had been found mentally incompetent by two psychiatrists but after being placed in an institution during the summer, she was declared competent and returned to Fulton County for prosecution.
Police said that Jane Fletcher had tried to poison the dogs for two weeks with rat poison but when that didn't work, she and her son decided to shoot the dogs. A neighbor called police after watching Fletcher shoot the dogs after he had tied them to a fence post of his property Saturday afternoon. The witness said Fletcher then poured gasoline on the bodies and burned the four dogs which ranged from 2 to 10 years in age.
When police arrived, they found the dogs burning in a pile and called for the fire department to extinguish the fire. 12-03-06
|Source: North Country Gazette - Dec 3, 2006|
Update posted on Dec 4, 2006 - 6:08PM
|Jane Fletcher, the 72-year-old woman accused of poisoning, shooting and burning four German shepherds, was sentenced this morning to two years in Fulton County Jail.|
Fulton County Court Judge Polly Hoye noted Fletcher's history of mental illness may have contributed to her behavior but did not absolve her of the crime.
In addition to two years behind bars, Hoye ordered Fletcher to undergo mental health treatment and forbade her from owning dogs for the next three years, the maximum time allowed by law.
Fletcher's son Edward, who faced similar charges, pleaded guilty to two animal cruelty charges on Thursday and faces 16 months in jail as part of a plea bargain.
Earlier this year, Fulton County District Attorney Louise K. Sira said that in March Jane Fletcher used rat poison in an attempt to kill the four dogs, named Laci, Kendra, Alex, and Natasha.
Jane Fletcher of Little Falls, Herkimer County, bought ammunition and brought a shotgun to her son's Oppenheim, Fulton County, home. Edward Fletcher isn't allowed to have a gun in the house because he is a convicted felon, Sira said.
The dogs Laci, Kendra, Alex and Natasha were each taken into the back yard, shot twice, doused with gasoline and set on fire. Edward Fletcher wielded the gun, Sira said.
A neighbor who heard the shots called police.
Jane Fletcher claimed killing the dogs was necessary because she couldn't afford to feed her son's children and the dogs, Sira said.
|Source: Times-Union - Sept 29, 2006|
Update posted on Sep 29, 2006 - 10:40AM
|A Little Falls woman has admitted her role in a horrible case of animal cruelty.|
According to officials in the Fulton County Court Clerk's Office, Jane Fletcher, 71, pleaded guilty to all 13 counts in her indictment. Four of those 13 counts are for aggravated animal cruelty, which is a felony.
Fletcher and her son Edward were accused of poisoning and shooting four German Shepherds, then burning their bodies in the backyard back in March.
Officials said Jane Fletcher told investigators that she couldn't afford food for the dogs.
Fletcher could face up to two years in prison and as much as $5,000 in fines for each dog. She is currently in jail on $20,000 bail. Sentencing is scheduled for Sept. 29.
Edward Fletcher is scheduled for trial in October.
|Source: Capital News 9 - Aug 30, 2006|
Update posted on Aug 30, 2006 - 1:43PM
|Judge's contact information:|
Hon. Polly A. Hoye
Fulton County Office Building
223 West Main Street
Johnstown, NY 12095
Phone: (518) 736-5691
Fax: (518) 736-5691
|Update posted on Jun 15, 2006 - 12:01PM |
|The woman charged with her son with first trying to poison their four German shepherds with rat poison before shooting them and burning them in their backyard is said to be mentally incompetent.|
Jane Fletcher, 70, of Little Falls has been found mentally incapacitated by two psychiatrists, her lawyer says. She is due to appear in Fulton County Court on June 15, 2006, when it is expected she will be declared an incapacitated person and committed to a psychiatric hospital. If Fletcher is found to be competent following a reevaluation during the first two years of her confinement, she could still be prosecuted. But that's unlikely, her attorney Anthony Casale has said in a statement. "Due to her advance age and history of mental illness spanning more than 40 years, I do not anticipate that this will be the case. Although the reports of the psychiatrists have been submitted to the court, there has not yet been a ruling by Judge Polly Hoye.
Edward Fletcher, 34, who is a registered Level I sex offender, and his mother have been charged with aggravated cruelty to animals, a felony; tampering with physical evidence and poisoning or attempting to poison animals, a misdemeanor. Edward was also charged with misdemeanor criminal possession of a weapon. They were charged under Buster's Law and if convicted could face over two years in prison per dog and a fine of up to $5,000 per dog.
According to the district attorney's office, regardless of the judge's finding regarding Jane Fletcher, prosecution of her son will proceed because "he allowed it to happen". According to the Fulton County Sheriff's Department, the Fletchers said they killed the dogs because they couldn't afford to feed them. Sharon Hayes, director of the Fulton County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, said that an autopsy of the dogs showed their stomachs were empty at the time of their death. There were also signs of other abuse including a shattered knee and broken jaw of one of the dogs.
Police said that Jane Fletcher had tried to poison the dogs for two weeks with rat poison but when that didn't work, they decided to shoot the dogs. A neighbor called police after watching Fletcher shoot the dogs after he had tied them to a fence post of his property. The witness said Fletcher then poured gasoline on the bodies and burned the dogs which ranged from 2 to 10 years in age. When police arrived, they found the dogs burning in a pile and called for the fire department to extinguish the fire.
Edward Fletcher is being represented by Michael Smrtic who maintains that his client shot the dogs to put them out of their misery after discovering that his mother had poisoned them.
|Source: North County Gazette - June 7, 2006|
Update posted on Jun 11, 2006 - 10:54AM
|A judge rejected requests Thursday to lower the bail for a mother and son accused of poisoning, shooting and burning their four German shepherds in March. The two were arraigned in Fulton County Court on a 13-count indictment.|
Jane Fletcher, 70, of 550 John St., Little Falls, and her son, Edward Fletcher, 34, of 271 County Highway 151, Oppenheim, appeared before Judge Polly A. Hoye.
They were indicted April 12 on these charges: four counts each of aggravated cruelty under Buster's law, poisoning an animal and torturing an animal; and a single count of tampering with evidence. They could face a maximum sentence of 1 1 /3 to four years in state prison.
Attorney Michael W. Smrtic for the defense requested bail be lowered for the Fletchers. The bail is $50,000, or $75,000 bond.
But the judge rejected the motions, although she may reconsider bail for Edward Fletcher if Smrtic can prove Fletcher will return to being a licensed electrician if released.
The judge is expected to have another conference on the case June 1.
"We thought that the bail was appropriate when it was set by the lower [Oppenheim] court," Fulton County District Attorney Louise K. Sira said today.
The district attorney said the case is a horrific one involving animal abuse.
"There was just no valid reason to justify what happened to those dogs," she said.
Sira predicted that ultimately, the public won't agree with the defense's contention that shooting the dogs was a "rural way" of doing things in the county.
The Fletchers were arrested March 19 in Oppenheim by the Fulton County Sheriff's Department. They were sent to the county jail after authorities said they poisoned, shot and burned the dogs on the son's property in town.
They initially were charged with aggravated cruelty to animals, a felony, tampering with physical evidence and poisoning or attempting to poison animals.
Deputies said Jane Fletcher had tried to poison the dogs - German shepherds ranging in age from 2 to 10 years old - for two weeks. But when that did not kill the animals quick enough, the Fletchers decided to shoot the dogs, deputies said.
Authorities said Edward Fletcher tied the dogs to a fence post on his property March 18 and shot them before pouring gasoline on the carcasses and burning them.
The Sheriff's Department said a neighbor saw the younger Fletcher shoot the dogs and notified authorities.
According to Fulton County Sheriff Thomas J. Lorey, Edward Fletcher gave the appearance he knew what he was doing was wrong and cooperated with deputies at the scene. The sheriff said Edward Fletcher's mother was less cooperative.
The indictment April 12 indicates the dogs - named Natasha, Alex, Kendra and Laci - were also intentionally poisoned. Sira said the Fletchers are either the first or one of a few defendants in Fulton County to be indicted under Buster's Law.
|Source: Leader-Herald - April 28, 2006|
Update posted on Apr 28, 2006 - 1:18PM
|A Fulton County man and his mother will be back in court on animal cruelty charges. Investigators said it's one of the worst cases they've ever seen.|
Edward Fletcher, 34, and his mother Jane Fletcher, 70, are scheduled to be arraigned on four felony counts of aggravated cruelty to animals.
The Fletchers are accused of shooting their four German Shepherds and then burning their bodies. Jane Fletcher is also accused of trying to kill the dogs with rat poison a week before the shootings.
The Fletchers allegedly told police they were unable to afford food for the dogs.
If convicted, the Fletchers face two years in prison and up to $5,000 in fines for each dog.
|Source: Capital 9 News - April 27, 2006|
Update posted on Apr 27, 2006 - 12:01PM
|Edward Fletcher, 34, and his mother, Jane Fletcher, 70, were indicted Friday by a Fulton County grand jury on charges that on March 18th at theson's Oppenheim home they first poisoned and then shot four German shepherds before trying to burn the carcasses.|
The indictment charges them with 13 counts, including aggravated cruelty to animals, torturing and injuring an animal, poisoning an animal and tampering with physical evidence.
The last count alleges that the carcasses were burned to destroy the evidence. The aggravated cruelty and tampering charges are felonies. The rest of the charges are misdemeanors under state Agriculture and Markets Law.
|Source: The Sunday Gazette - April 16, 2006|
Update posted on Apr 17, 2006 - 9:38AM
|The attorney for an Oppenheim man accused of shooting and burning four German shepherds after his mother allegedly poisoned them said his client's actions were meant to end the dogs' suffering. |
Attorney Michael W. Smrtic asked Oppenheim Town Justice Robert L. Link to consider that in rural areas it was still common for people to put down dogs "with a bullet" and not always with a trip to the veterinarian's office.
Link did not accept the argument of the defense. He ruled that sufficient evidence had been presented to him by Fulton County District Attorney Louise K. Sira to justify the charges of felony animal cruelty and evidence tampering against Edward Fletcher, 34, and his mother, Jane Fletcher, 70.
"I agree that the district attorney has met her burden of proof overwhelmingly that felonies occurred," Link said.
The purpose of the felony hearing before Link was to establish that enough evidence existed to charge Edward and Jane Fletcher with felony aggravated animal cruelty under Buster's Law and evidence tampering for allegedly attempting to burn the remains of the four dogs March 18 at Edward Fletcher's Oppenheim home.
Smrtic said Edward Fletcher did not burn the remains of the dogs to tamper with evidence, but did so because the ground was too frozen to bury them and he did not want his children to see their remains.
Edward and Jane Fletcher's case will now go to a grand jury. No date has been set. The two defendants remain in the Fulton County Jail on $50,000 bail.
Naomi Smith, who lives with Edward Fletcher and is his sister, testified she and her dogs had been living with her brother at 271 County Highway 151. She said her mother, Jane Fletcher, had sent her a letter Feb. 6 threatening the dogs. She said that she discussed the letter with her brother, but dismissed it because her mother had made similar threats in the past.
Smith said she later discovered a blue substance floating in water dishes of the dogs. She said she later discovered her mother feeding the dogs hamburger with quarter-inch-long "blue pellets" that she said she later realized were D-Con rat poison.
She said after she took the hamburger away from the dogs, Jane Fletcher told her, "I told you not to wash those [expletive] dishes out. I'm going to kill those [expletive] dogs."
Smith said on the morning of March 18, one of her dogs was very sick and was unable to walk properly. She said that her brother told her during later that day that if the other dogs were suffering, he would have to kill them.
Neighbor Ronald E. Hayes Jr. said he heard two gunshots and a dog whine on the Fletcher's property at approximately 1:30 p.m. that day. He said he then watched Edward Fletcher hand a shotgun to Jane Fletcher and go into his home. Hayes said he saw Fletcher lead out two dogs on leashes and heard gunshots. He said he did not see if Fletcher shot the dogs.
Hayes said he called 911 to report the shooting. He then said he saw a puff a black smoke above the Fletchers' property. He said he could not see if Fletcher had lit the dogs on fire.
Fulton County Sheriff's deputy Scott Everson said he responded to the 911 call and spoke to Jane Fletcher, who said they were "burning garbage."
Everson then said Edward Fletcher told him he had "made a mistake," put his head down and went inside the home. Everson said he saw the burning piles in the Fletchers' back yard clearly had faces, teeth and long snouts. He said Jane Fletcher told him she had killed and burned the dogs, and they had to "make a choice between feeding children and feeding dogs."
Everson testified that during a search of the house, he found a 12-gauge shotgun, spent shells and D-Con rat poison. Everson also said Smith gave him the handwritten letter that she said her mother had given her Feb. 6.
"Why would she say they were burning garbage if not to hide the fact that they were burning evidence?" Sira said. "They weren't burning garbage. They were burning God's living creatures."
Smrtic furiously objected to Sira's closing statements and blasted the district attorney.
"There has been no evidence presented that these dogs were burned alive, and it is entirely improper to make that argument," he said.
After the hearing, Edward Fletcher and Jane Fletcher were led outside to a sheriff's deputy's vehicle. Volunteers for the Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals were outside the courthouse and clapped and cheered as the two defendants walked past.
"I'm ecstatic, but I'll be more happy when they are found guilty," Fulton County SPCA Director Sharon Hayes said. "Justice should be done. I'm not saying they should burn in hell, but justice should be done."
|Source: The Leader-Herald - March 30, 2006|
Update posted on Mar 31, 2006 - 12:06AM
|The Fulton County Sheriff's Department said Jane Fletcher had tried to poison the dogs - German shepherds ranging in age from 2 to 10 years old - for two weeks, but when that did not kill the animals quick enough, the Fletchers decided to shoot the dogs. Authorities said Edward Fletcher tied the dogs to a fence post on his property Saturday and shot them before pouring gasoline on the carcasses and burning them. |
The Sheriff's Department said a neighbor saw Fletcher shoot the dogs and notified authorities. Deputies responded to the scene about 2:30 p.m. The Fletchers told authorities they killed the dogs because they no longer could afford to feed them, the Sheriff's Department reported in a news release. The Fletchers were unable to post $50,000 cash bail or $75,000 bond after their arrest.
The two are scheduled to reappear in Oppenheim Town Court at 6 p.m. on March 22, 2006.
Edward Fletcher also was charged with misdemeanor criminal possession of a weapon because he is a registered Level 1 sex offender, stemming from a case in Herkimer County in 1998, authorities said.
Under Buster's Law, the Fletchers could face up two years in prison per dog and a maximum fine of $5,000 per dog, according to Melissa Kahn, Fulton County assistant district attorney. According to Fulton County Sheriff Thomas J. Lorey, Edward Fletcher gave the appearance he knew what he was doing was wrong and cooperated with deputies on the scene. Lorey said Fletcher's mother was less cooperative.
An autopsy of the dogs' carcasses showed their stomachs were empty at the time of death and the dogs had signs of abuse, including a shattered knee and broken jaw, according to Sharon Hayes, director of the Fulton County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. "This was a twisted act," Hayes said. "It's not like they were just shot. "They [the Fletchers] had a lot of things they could have done, ... and they chose to shoot them," Hayes said.
|Source: Leader Herald News - March 20, 2006|
Update posted on Mar 22, 2006 - 2:00PM
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