Dogcatcher wants case diverted for probation

Friday, October 30, 2009

Lewisburg's immediate past dogcatcher has requested leniency from the state as he faces charges of theft and official misconduct in connection with an English bulldog.

Statements made in Marshall County Circuit Court on Wednesday revealed that Neal Owens, 36, of Belfast, has asked the District Attorney's Office to grant him a pretrial diversion.

State prosecutors have discretion with such matters in which a defendant is placed on probation as they concede guilt. If a defendant's status is diverted before a judge passes judgment, then punishment might be imposed and served to give the individual an opportunity to prove themselves as someone who shouldn't be prosecuted.

After probation and prior to a judge issuing a sentencing order, the defendant might return to court and ask the judge to issue an order to expunge, or erase their criminal court record. That will not eliminate jail or police records.

Given Owens' request, District Attorney Chuck Crawford has until Nov. 2 and a hearing that day to decide whether he will agree to placement of Owens on probation before Judge Robert Crigler issues a sentencing order.

"We're considering our options on that," Crawford said of Owens' request.

Owens has said that he was called to a Buchanan Street house where he was asked to remove an English bulldog with no tag.

Lewisburg City Manager Eddie Fuller said Owens told him he took the dog home to sell and make money. Owens was transferred to the stormwater office Sept. 11 and early this month he was told he had the option to resign before termination. Owens accepted the opportunity.

"He admitted wrongdoing," Fuller said.

Owens was indicted by the Marshall County Grand Jury on Sept. 23. Indictment is not proof of guilt. It's a step toward prosecution in Circuit Court.