GEORGETOWN COUNTY, SC (WMBF) – A man who was arrested for allegedly duct taping a dog and throwing in the International Paper Canal has pleaded guilty to animal cruelty charges.
Associate Attorney Bradley Floyd says that Bobby Joe McConnell, the man who was arrested duct taping the dog in Georgetown and killing two other dogs went before of Judge Hyman to face his two counts of animal cruelty. Without recommendation from the Solicitor's Office, he entered a straight guilty plea for both charges.
Judge Hyman imposed the maximum sentence, giving McConnell five years for each charge. Those sentences will run consecutively for a total of 10 years in prison.
McConnell will also have to pay restitution in the amount of $1,872.40 to St. Frances Animal Center for expenses associated with one of the dog's care. He was also order to pay a $5,000 fine for each charge.
Half of his fines will be granted to St. Francis, who has been granted ownership of the dog so she may now be adopted.
"We are thrilled with the sentence and we believe that it echoes the sentiments of the community at large, not just those involved directly with Dara. This was a deplorable and inhumane act derived from [what Judge Hyman called] an 'evil heart'," Associate Attorney Bradley Floyd said.
McConnell's criminal charges stem from two separate incidents in the same location along the International Paper Canal near Brick Chimney Road.
At first, a group of fishermen heard splashing noises, and spotted a dog near the bridge as they were preparing to head out in their boat.
The report says the dog, a black lab, was duct taped around his front and rear legs, and his muzzle was also restrained as he "flopped around" in the water.
The sheriff's office responded and called the fire department to help retrieve the lab from the water, which the report says was a struggle.
It finally took a long forest fire tool extended into the water to guide the lab onto the bank of the canal where the duct tape was cut from his legs and mouth. The fire department transported the lab to St. Frances Animal shelter where the duct tape was removed and taken for fingerprinting, since no one but the fishermen were found in the area.
The animal shelter treated the dog, who they say appeared to have been hit in the head with a screwdriver or a hammer.
The investigation by the Georgetown County Sheriff's Office deepened when two more deceased dogs were been found bound with duct tape in a canal just a matter of days later.
Another fisherman noticed the smell before he spotted the two objects, later identified as the dogs, floating in the water. The reports says the medium yellow dog was bound about his mouth and paws with dog tape, and small black dog was covered with weeds with a rope around its neck.
The officers that responded to this incident noted that the dogs appeared to have floated there from upstream, ending up in the same location that the first pup was found with his muzzle wrapped in duct tape.
Carrie Cuthbertson, spokeswoman for the Georgetown County Sheriff's Office, says necropsies of those two deceased dogs show they had been dead between three to seven days before they were found in the canal.
After Bobby Joe McConnell was arrested, charged and taken into custody he began receiving threatening letters at his home from addresses out of state. The letters were not signed.