Tuesday, October 13, 1987

Ohio: Woman says Dr. William G. Eckman was visiting prostitute Joetta Darmstadter when he was mauled to death by her two Pit Bulls

OHIO -- A woman who found the wallet of a man mauled to death by two pit bull dogs testified Monday that it contained the telephone number of a prostitute he was visiting the day he died.

The admitted prostitute, Joetta Darmstadter (aka Joetta Barrios), 32, and her housemate and the dogs' co-owner, Wilbur Rutledge, 34, are on trial on charges of involuntary manslaughter in the death of Dr. William G. Eckman, 67.

Prosecutors were expected to wrap up their case late Monday or early Tuesday. They have been barred by Montgomery County Common Pleas Court Judge Robert M. Brown from presenting animal behavior experts who tested the dogs after the attack and found them to be vicious.

Brown also has prohibited prosecutors and defense lawyers from talking about the trial.

LaDonna Donovan testified that Eckman, of suburban Kettering, had moved in with her and her three children. She said she found his wallet in the trunk of his car about a month after the April 6 attack.

Tucked behind the lining was a piece of paper with ''Joe 275-6555'' written on it, she said. There was no money in the wallet, she said, although bank records show Eckman had withdrawn $25 shortly before the attack.

Ms. Donovan said she called the number. ''I asked if Joetta was there and the lady that answered the phone said, 'This is Joetta.' And then I hung up,'' she said.

Prosecutors are trying to show that Ms. Darmstadter and Rutledge knew the dogs were vicious before the attack and that Eckman was a regular customer of Ms. Darmstadter's and was in the house for sex when he was attacked.

Defense lawyers claim Eckman was told by Ms. Darmstadter to go away but slipped into the house and was attacked when he opened the door to a bedroom where the dogs had gone.

Ms. Donovan is the sole beneficiary of an estate she said was worth about $20,000 left by Eckman, a retired chief of staff at St. Elizabeth Medical Center and chief of surgery at the Dayton Veterans Administration Hospital.

She said she knew Eckman saw a psychiatrist and that before he lived with her he provided $13,000 over six weeks to a prostitute. Defense lawyer Daniel O'Brien said Eckman had given $500,000 to a prostitute before that.

Prosecutors have presented evidence that Eckman often withdrew from $25 to $100 from his bank account, although Ms. Donovan said she rarely saw him spend much money.

From the book "Pit Bull: The Battle over 
an American Icon" by Bronwen Dickey

(AP - Oct 12, 1987)


Tuesday, October 6, 1987

Florida: Vikki Kittles making a joke out of her animal cruelty criminal case, demanding new judge and public defender.

FLORIDA -- Vikki Rene Kittles, who faces assault and animal abuse charges, on Monday persuaded Broward County Court Judge Leonard Stafford to remove himself from the abuse case and to appoint a new lawyer.

Vikki Rene Kittles (also known as Susan Dietrich, Rene Depenbrock, and Lynn Zellan), 40, told Stafford during a hearing on the misdemeanor animal abuse charges that she had problems being represented by the Public Defender`s Office, and said, "I`m having a problem with you as well."

She also filed several motions on her own behalf, one seeking a written explanation why she needed a psychological evaluation, and others asserting her rights to counsel and to being present at all hearings.

Kittles was arrested in May 1985 on charges of keeping two horses, three cats and 37 dogs in her Wilton Manors home. She also faces the assault felony charge for threatening a neighbor with a gun, police said.

Stafford said he had planned to consolidate the charges so Kittles would be represented by one lawyer in one courtroom.

But after hearing her concerns, Stafford appointed Bernard Canarick, a Plantation lawyer, to represent Kittles on the misdemeanor charges.

The felony charge, scheduled before Circuit Judge Russell Seay, will be heard separately.

Stafford also removed himself from the abuse case, saying that "everybody is entitled to one change." A different County Court judge will hear the case.

Meanwhile, Broward Sheriff`s Detective Sandy Wise said the office continued to search for Kittles` mother, Jean Sullivan, who is in her 70s.

Wise said authorities do not know what happened to Sullivan because she left Broward County in 1985 when Kittles fled after being arrested on the charges of keeping the animals in her home. Kittles never showed up for a court hearing on those charges.

Broward deputies launched a search after a missing persons report was filed on Sept. 19 by a private investigator hired by Sullivan`s daughter-in-law.

Kittles was arrested on Sept. 4 by Manatee County sheriff`s deputies on a warrant issued by Broward authorities. She was living in a van in Ellenton, a small town near Bradenton, with about 40 cats and dogs. Sullivan was not with her.

Law enforcement officials are concerned because Kittles` neighbors in Manatee County reported seeing an elderly woman at Kittles` home in February, Wise said.

Kittles "wouldn`t say anything about her mother," Wise said.

(Sun Sentinel - October 6, 1987)