Man gets 20 months in Kilgore animal cruelty case
May 2, 2013 at 11 p.m.
A district judge in Longview handed a 20-month sentence Thursday to a man who pleaded guilty to cruelly tying a dog that became the focus of regional attention two summers ago.
In sentencing Jeremy Morgan Evans, 24, Judge Alfonso Charles called photo evidence of the dog's injuries "sickening."
Charles also said Evans' ex-girlfriend, who lived alone for a week at the Kilgore house where Evans tied the recently adopted dog, also bore responsibility for injuries to Honey Bee.
Rescue of the terrier/Chihuahua mix from a Kilgore backyard sparked a Facebook page that attracted donations from as far away as Japan.
Honey Bee has been renamed Maddie Lynn by her new Longview owners, who adopted the abused puppy.
"She has scars on both sides of her neck," owner Beverly Cropper testified during a punishment hearing that followed Evans' guilty plea. "There is liver damage. She has some nerve damage."
Evans, who grew up in Marshall, apologized for tethering the dog to a backyard pole so severely that a veterinarian said at the time the cable basically had become part of the dog's skin.
He also said he had been at the Kilgore house only sporadically during the week after tying the dog, to get belongings after breaking up with his girlfriend or to visit their daughter.
The girlfriend, Jessica Nicole Ellis, 24, had recently adopted Honey Bee from the Humane Society of Northeast Texas.
"Without her cooperation, we would not be here today," Assistant District Attorney Chris Parker said during his closing statement to the judge. "I don't know if she's a good dog owner or a bad dog owner."
Evans' attorney, Kevin Settle, had asked for a probated sentence. Charles could have sentenced Evans to as many as 24 months and a $10,000 fine for the state jail felony, cruelty to animals: torture.
When the judge emerged from deliberations in his chambers, he cited several factors in choosing a prison stint but not the maximum length.
Those included a previous conviction against Evans on a charge of assault under the family violence code and evidence that Evans had revisited the home during the week to 10 days after tying the dog.
"You have a responsibility to check on this animal, because you tied it up - you knew how you tied it up," Charles told Evans. "When the court views the photos in this evidence, it's sickening. This injury didn't happen over one day. This poor animal suffered."
Charles also had harsh words for Ellis, who was not in the courtroom.
"I strongly believe that she should be in front of this court, too," Charles said from the bench.
Parker was pleased with the sentence.
"I think the court sent a strong message about animal abuse," the prosecutor said.