Accused dog abuser will go to trial

August 18, 2008 7:32:01 PM PDT
A judge said there is enough evidence for an accused dog abuser in Santa Cruz County to go to trial, but in a turn of events, Robert Brunette will be released from jail without posting any bond.

The testimony against Robert Brunette was, at times, extremely graphic. The prosecution had nearly 90 exhibits, most of them pictures of dogs, both alive and dead, and three hours of testimony from an Animal Control officer.

"The head had probably been there for less than a month still, had just started to decompose. You could clearly see it was a black Cane Corso Lab Rotweiler mix."

The Deputy D.A. submitted photos from Burnett's Boulder Creek property, including a puppy's decomposing body in a plastic bag, a still recognizable dog head squired on a tree branch and a set of paws left for officers to find.

"They were the paws of an adult dog that had been? I don't know how they were removed, but they were severed kind of by the halfway down the leg."

The defense tried to get those pictures thrown out, saying they were not relevant to the ten charges against Burnett.

"He's charged with negligence. It's more failing to properly care for animals, not chopping them up animals or killing animals. He didn't do that," says Mark Garver, Brunette's defense attorney.

A veterinarian who examined most of the 51 dogs taken from Burnett's property testified that many were emaciated, had thousands of fleas on them, and puppies were infested with worms. The judge agreed there was enough evidence to try brunette on ten counts, including two felonies.

"It's a win all around. He was held to answer on the charges. The judge saw the evidence before him, saw that it was substantial, saw that it was concerning," says Deputy District Attorney Heather Jones.

The defense did score one victory. The judge said brunette was not a flight risk and will allow him to be released from jail under conditions that are less restrictive than the ones Brunette previously rejected.

"I think he's pleased with being released and that the conditions aren't too erroneous for him," says Garver.

The judge says, that under the conditions, Brunette will we released and that he must call into court officers every three days, and that he must not, under any circumstances, possess or care for animals. His next court appearance is September 10.

For more on this, check out Karina's Back Story blog.


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