Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Live puppy OK'd for trial

From the Atlanta Journal-Constitution:
Prosecutors won the right Monday to use a live puppy in a demonstration of how another dog suffered before it was stuffed into a searing hot gas oven and killed.

Laura Janssen, the prosecutor, argued that a live demonstration would show how a real dog would react. She said her expert on dog behavior would stop short of any real cruelty.

"It helps the jury to understand," Janssen said.

The puppy pulled from the Fulton animal shelter on Tuesday would be a stand-in for one that was doused with paint, burned, hog-tied with duct tape and then died futility struggling inside a gas oven.

Two brothers, Justin and Joshua Moulder, are on trial in Fulton Superior Court for animal cruetly as well as breaking into and trashing the community center of Englewood Manor apartments in Atlanta.

Judge Thelma Wyatt Cummings Moore agreed Monday to allow the dog demonstration over the objections of defense lawyers who argued that trotting out a cute puppy would prejudice the jury.

"This is clearly just an attempt to inflame the jury," said Kevin Schumaker, the lawyer for Joshua Moulder.

Testimony resumed Monday with a series of police witnesses who kicked off the second week of the trial.

The early session witnesses included an Atlanta police supervisor, a crime scene technician and a police sergeant who were all called to the apartments Aug. 21.

They all said they found the apartment community center trashed — computers smashed, books strewn about, paint splattered around and other vandalism — as well as a small puppy that had been duct-taped and gruesomely killed inside the center's gas oven.