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Dog killer sentenced on different charge; diversion in jeopardy

Dog killer sentenced on different charge; diversion in jeopardy
By BRAD GASKINS
Special to The Messenger
DRESDEN — A young Dresden man who tortured a puppy to death last May will spend 45 days in jail for contributing to the delinquency of a minor.
Weakley County General Sessions Judge Tommy Moore meted out the sentence Wednesday afternoon after Preston Odle pled guilty to the Class A misdemeanor.
Prosecutors dropped a second charge of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon because Odle, 18, of Dresden is not technically a convicted felon.
“He may soon become one,” Assistant District Attorney Colin Johnson said of Odle, who is on judicial diversion for the Class E felony of aggravated animal cruelty.
Odle could be sentenced to more time behind bars when he appears Jan. 17 before Circuit Court Judge William B. Acree Jr., who will decide if Odle’s judicial diversion will be revoked.
Johnson said he would “be surprised if there weren’t some ramification in the circuit court.” A typical 18-year-old likely would not have been sentenced to 45 days in jail for a Class A misdemeanor, he added.
During a circuit court hearing Dec. 20, Acree told Odle that he would sentence him to jail time if he were found guilty of a new crime. Odle could be incarcerated for up to two years.
It was Acree who granted Odle judicial diversion Nov. 8. Acree ordered Odle to complete 200 hours of community service, undergo mental evaluations and submit to random drug tests.
If Odle stayed out of trouble for two years, the incident would be wiped from his record. Acree warned Odle that community members would be keeping close eyes on him.
Last month, though, it was the ears of an off-duty law enforcement officer that landed Odle back in court.
The off-duty officer called the Weakley County Sheriff’s Department to report shots fired somewhere near a home north of Dresden. The off-duty officer found the vehicle, with Odle behind the wheel and four juvenile passengers inside.
Once deputies arrived, Odle said one of the minors, a 15-year-old, shot a rifle out of the vehicle window, attempting to kill a deer.
In the original case, Odle, along with Levi Evans, pled guilty to one count of aggravated animal cruelty for torturing a 4-month-old St. Bernard puppy to death in May. The dog had been kicked and suffered broken ribs, Dresden Police Chief Randal Walker reported.
Authorities also accused the teens of stabbing the dog at least once and hanging it with wire wrapped around its neck.
The dog apparently had been given to Odle, who said he didn’t want it and called a friend to come get it. The friend and his father contacted authorities after they came to pick up the dog and allegedly found it limping and foaming at the mouth.
The case drew attention from animal rights activists. About 30 members of a group called “Justice for Puppy Doe” picketed outside the courthouse and urged the judge to impose the maximum two-year sentence. Acree opted for judicial diversion.
After Wednesday’s hearing, Johnson said his office continues to receive phone calls and emails from animal rights activists.
“I’ve gotten emails from all over the world — France, Great Britain — of people supporting Puppy Doe,” he said.
Editor’s note: Brad Gaskins is editor of The Weakley County Press in Martin.
Published in The Messenger 1.3.13

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