Friday, April 21, 2017

New Jersey: Richard Bijacsko, 52, convicted of killing a pit bull puppy by beating it to death with an axe

NEW JERSEY -- A Burlington County jury found a Wrightstown man guilty of animal cruelty and a weapons offense for beating a pit bull puppy to death with an axe last year.

Richard Bijacsko, 52, of East Main Street, who lived in Springfield at the time of the incident, was convicted last week of two third-degree charges of animal cruelty and possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose in the death of a 6-month-old pit bull named Leonitis.

The verdict was returned late Thursday after a three-day trial before Superior Court Judge Jeanne T. Covert at the Burlington County Courthouse in Mount Holly, officials said. Bijacsko is set to be sentenced in June. Third-degree charges are punishable by up to three to five years in prison.

Bijacsko was arrested last April 23 by township police, who helped investigate the death of the puppy.

According to a Burlington County SPCA statement at the time, the puppy was found days earlier in a recycling bucket outside a motel on Route 130 in Florence.

The owner of the dog had turned him over to Bijacsko because he was staying at the motel and could not have a pet, authorities have said. Initially, Bijacsko fabricated a story that the puppy had broken his leash and been fatally struck by a car.

No evidence was found in the area where Bijacsko claimed the puppy had been hit, and he said he couldn't remember where he picked up the puppy because he had been drinking, the SPCA has previously said.

At trial, a veterinarian testified for the state that the injuries the puppy sustained were not consistent with being hit by a vehicle.

The state, which was represented by Burlington County Assistant Prosecutor Keith Carmy, had instead contended Bijacsko beat the puppy with the backside of an ax.

X-rays revealed the puppy's skull had sustained several fractures, according to officials. Bijacsko had previously told police he hit Leonitis in the head with the axe because the puppy had caused him problems, officials have said.

(Burlington County Times - April 17, 2017)

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