Dangerous dog off death row in Virginia, but Niko’s future unclear
A Virginia doggy that a judge requested be euthanized is still alive 7 many years afterwards. But Virginia’s Court of Appeals has ruled his owner are unable to have her sentence thrown out.
It’s been 7 a long time considering that a Virginia woman was convicted of owning a harmful puppy, which killed a cat. Just one of the situations of the owner remaining out of jail was for the puppy, named Niko, to be euthanized.
Seven years later on, Niko is continue to alive, and now off death row, but Virginia’s Court of Appeals has dominated towards the woman’s argument to have the sentence thrown out.
In August 2015, Toni Sue Stacey was convicted in Albemarle County Circuit Courtroom for possessing a dangerous canine. Niko, a Staffordshire terrier — a pit bull-sort of dog — experienced killed a neighbor’s cat.
The decide sentenced Stacey to 90 days in jail, but suspended all of it, with the circumstances that Stacey be of fantastic behavior, and that Niko would be euthanized. Stacey’s spouse, Audrey Wells, is the dog’s co-operator.
Even so, after a long time of appeals, in quite a few condition courts, together with the Supreme Court of Virginia, Niko remains alive at the Charlottesville Albemarle SPCA — a no-get rid of shelter. A Fb team, Preserve NIKO, has voiced support for the animal.
In the yrs considering that Stacey was at first convicted, her attorneys had been thriving in arguing that “while a circuit courtroom may well buy a risky dog’s disposal,” point out code “grants the regional animal control officer discretion about which disposal process to use — euthanasia staying only a person of the offered solutions.”
Inside the point out code, “disposal” can include a dog dwelling with a shelter or company inclined to sign up and household the animal.
Beneath her initial 2015 conviction, the highest sentence Stacey faced for possessing a risky dog, a Course 2 misdemeanor, was six months in jail.
In her most current circumstance in the Virginia Court of Appeals, Stacey argued the condition no for a longer period had the jurisdiction to buy Niko be “disposed of,” because the highest sentence she could have faced for her conviction had extensive because passed.
This 7 days, a a few-judge panel disagreed.
“Trial courts have the authority to get the euthanization of a vicious dog,” the court docket wrote in its opinion dated April 19. “But listed here, the trial court’s May perhaps 21, 2021 order instructed ‘disposal’ alternatively than euthanization of Niko.”
Judge Junius Fulton III wrote in the view that the May 2021 get “has the result of granting Stacey the incredibly reduction she asked for — the ‘disposal’ fairly than the euthanasia of Niko.”
Fulton claimed Stacey’s attractiveness is “an impermissible collateral attack” on her 2015 conviction, and acceptance of the provide to stay out of jail.
“The trial court docket acted inside its authority pursuant to statute and Stacey received the reduction she experienced asked for at the trial courtroom amount. We uncover that Stacey is bound by her prior place of assent to the demo court’s requested disposal of Niko and come across that the existing attractiveness is with out benefit,” wrote Fulton.
Contacted by WTOP about probable appeals, Stacey’s attorney Elliott Harding, of Charlottesville, remained upbeat.
“We’re in communication with community animal regulate now, and am hopeful they’ll permit him go, recognizing that euthanization is not required. Whether or not he can return to Toni or Audrey continues to be unseen but there’s definitely an prospect for him to have a different prospect,” Harding mentioned.