Cherokee County Superior Court Judge Jackson Harris granted a motion last month to throw out counts one and two in the indictment -- the aggravated cruelty to animal charges -- against Daniel Wood Peabody, the former Cherokee County School Police Department officer charged in connection to the death of Inka, a Belgian Malinois employed by the school district.
ISSUE OF A TECHNICALITY
According to court documents, Peabody’s attorney filed a motion to quash the indictment, arguing that since the aggravated cruelty to animal charges contend Inka’s death allegedly occurred while the former officer was on duty, he was “entitled” to appear before the grand jury.
Georgia law grants current and former peace officers the right to testify before the grand jury before it makes decision on whether it should hand down indictments.
Judge Harris's order does not apply to the charge of making a false statement filed against Peabody in the indictment, however.
“The state’s position is that while the defendant was a law enforcement officer at the time the crime was committed, he had stepped away from his law enforcement duties when the crime was committed and thus wasn’t entitled to be present at the grand jury proceedings,” District Attorney Shannon Wallace said.
Wallace said her office has filed a certificate for immediate review with the Court of Appeals.
Once the appeal has been docketed, the office will have 20 days to file its brief and the defendant will have 20 days to respond.
"We will probably not have a decision from the Court of Appeals until November 2017," Wallace added.
Peabody, a former lieutenant with the school police department, was arrested and charged in June 2016 by the Cherokee County Marshal's Office in connection to the death of K9 Inka, who was his partner.
He was indicted in September by the grand jury on two charges of aggravated cruelty to animal charges and one count of making a false statement.
The aggravated animal cruelty charges against Peabody stem from accusations that he left Inka in a patrol car with no ventilation while the engine was off, which resulted in the dog's death from a heat stroke. The car was not properly equipped to transport police K9's, as it did not have an agency-approved heat alarm or kennel system, the marshal's office previously said.
The false statement charge comes from Peabody informing investigators about the death of Dale, a yellow Labrador that was retired from the Cherokee school police department in 2012.
The agency received information about Dale after opening an investigation into Inka's death. Peabody, who was responsible for Dale's upkeep and care after his retirement, allegedly told investigators the dog's death was accidental and was caused by him choking on a toy, the marshal's office said.
However, Cherokee Chief Marshal Ron Hunton previously said the investigation "yielded evidence that Dale was in fact shot and killed by Peabody" after was retired from active service.
In another twist to the events, the marshal's office said remains of a third dog found on property formerly belonging to Peabody, did not belong to Dale. Those remains, the agency added, possibly belonged to Inka's grandmother, a Belgian Malinois owned by Peabody.
(Patch.com - February 28, 2017)
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