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Ex-fire official convicted of brutal attack on neighbor's dog

Glynn Johnson punched the German shepherd puppy in the head, broke its jaws and beat it with a rock, leading to its death. Johnson, who argued self-defense, could face up to four years in prison.

January 27, 2010|By David Kelly
  • When Karley's owners were told she would have major brain damage -- if she survived at all -- they decided to put her down.
When Karley's owners were told she would have major brain damage --… (KTLA )

Reporting from Riverside — A retired Los Angeles County assistant fire chief was found guilty of animal cruelty Tuesday after punching a neighbor's puppy, breaking its jaws and beating it with a rock, an attack that eventually led to the death of the 42-pound dog.

"Karley, this one's for you!" a tearful Shelley Toole shouted outside Riverside County Superior Court after the verdict was read. "This is for you, girl!"

Glynn Johnson, 55, faces up to four years in prison on animal cruelty charges for killing Karley, a 6-month-old German shepherd mix that prosecutors said was the victim of a long-running feud between Johnson and the Toole family. At one point, Johnson allegedly put dog feces in the Tooles' mailbox and engaged in heated arguments that left them fearing for their safety.

Johnson told investigators that the dog attacked first and he was defending himself. The former firefighter said the dog grabbed him and nearly ripped off the top of his thumb. He said the dog continued its attack, biting him in the hands, arms and legs.

Johnson's attorney could not be reached for comment.

"I don't think this was a self-defense case at all," Riverside County Deputy Dist. Atty. William Robinson said Tuesday. "It was done out of rage and anger at the Toole family and his actions were wildly inappropriate."

Robinson said many aspects of Johnson's "strange and sordid history in his neighborhood" were not presented to the jury; he did not elaborate.

Johnson displayed no emotion when the verdict was read and left the courtroom surrounded by family and a phalanx of Riverside County sheriff's deputies. He refused to comment and remains free on bail. He is scheduled to be sentenced March 8.

The incident unfolded Nov. 3, 2008, when Travis Staggs, a friend of the Toole family, was returning with Karley after a walk in the Woodcrest area of Riverside. Johnson approached Staggs and offered to take the dog the rest of the way home.

Seconds later, Staggs said he saw Karley on her back and Johnson punching her with a closed fist up to 10 times in the head. He then pulled the puppy's jaws apart until they broke, Staggs testified, and then hit the dog nearly a dozen times on the head with a 12-pound rock.

The dog suffered three skull fractures, lost an eye and had its sinus cavity crushed. Shelley Toole agreed to have Karley put down when she learned the dog, if it survived, would be left with major brain damage.

The Tooles said the incident, which attracted nationwide attention from animal rights groups that saw the case as an example of extreme animal cruelty, changed their lives forever.

"I would have rather done four years in prison than live through that again," said Jeff Toole. "We lived in fear for three or four months after this that [Johnson] would do something else. We had to move. My job has suffered, my son's schooling has suffered. We are scarred for life."

He said he hopes the case brings to light the horrors of animal cruelty so that it's treated with the seriousness it deserves.

"This is all about Karley, she was our family member," he said. "I think the crime was so violent that without at least a year in jail the punishment won't fit the crime."

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