“I looked down and there was Snoopy — stiff, not moving — her eyes were sunken into her head, and there were feces behind her, then I went closer, and I touched her and she was cold and hard,” said Taly Russell at defendant Anthony Pastor’s animal cruelty trial.
The little pooch, who Russell described as a “ball of fluffy cuteness,” had nine broken ribs, a kidney that was torn in two, a damaged liver and spleen and major internal bleeding, the veterinarian told Russell.
She said she still didn’t suspect that Pastor, a corporate lawyer and father, was involved. “The whole thing didn’t make any sense,” she told jurors in Manhattan Supreme Court before Justice Robert Mandelbaum. “Who murders a dog? It’s just not something people I’ve known do.”
In a chillingly similar incident, in 2013, Pastor’s ex-fiance awoke in his apartment to find her “white fluffy dog” Molly dead, said Assistant District Attorney Tanisha Palvia.
Days earlier, Pastor’s landlord allegedly saw him beating Molly outside the building, the prosecutor said.
After Russell, 45, told her estranged husband about Snoopy’s mysterious death, he threatened to take custody of their two children, now 9 and 11, if she didn’t cut ties with Pastor, she said.
He was so alarmed by the incident, he hired security and slept in the children’s room.
Defense lawyer Gerald Lefcourt, who is heading a defense team of three attorneys, argued that the dog could have been injured the night before when the couple tied him to a metal fence in Riverside Park while they had sex against a tree.
But Russell insists she was no more than 20 feet from Snoopy, 4, and facing her direction during the entire sex act.
“I wasn’t looking at her the entire time, but she was directly in front of my face,” she smiled, nervously. She claimed she never lost sight of the cavalier-poodle pup even while performing oral sex on Pastor.
Lefcourt grilled Russell for hours as she shifted uncomfortably in her seat. He asked her about the four other dogs she owned in the last decade, including one that died and two that she gave away because they weren’t a good match for her family.
Russell met Pastor, 46, on match.com two months after separating from her hubby. A few months into the relationship, Snoopy’s behavior toward Pastor changed and she would cower in his presence and run from him, she said.
But this didn’t stop Russell from leaving Snoopy with Pastor while she jetted off on trips to Indonesia and other exotic locales.
Even after Snoopy’s shocking death, Russell invited Pastor and his son to stay at her Hamptons home, she admitted.
If convicted, Pastor faces a maximum of 1 1/3 to 4 years in prison on the top charge of felony cruelty to animals.
(NYPost - May 1, 2017)