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Keith Shepherd Found Guilty In Bear-Bear Shooting

| November 19, 2010, 05:33 PM | 17 Comments
Bear-Bear, the siberian husky who was shot by Keith Shepherd

Bear-Bear, a 2 year old Siberian Husky was shot in a dog park in Severn, MD on August 2, 2010

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A Facebook group of almost 16,000 members is calling for Justice For Bear-Bear. Today, Keith Elgin Shepherd was found guilty of unlawfully discharging a weapon and animal cruelty but avoided any jail time or significant fines.   Judge Thomas Pryal found him guilty on both counts–animal cruelty and unlawful discharge of a weapon. Shepherd was sentenced to a year of unsupervised probation, 80 hours of community service, and a total of $1500 in fines ($500 for the animal cruelty and $1000 on the gun charge). The $1000 is suspended provided he completes his probation without incident. Before sentencing, Shepherd was given the option to accept the sentence and receive a Probation Before Judgment (PBJ) which prevents him from any appeal and allows the judgment to be erased from his record once the sentence is complete. The bottom line is a guilty verdict, a year probation, 2 weeks of community service and $500 plus costs.

Shepherd’s attorney, David Putzi commented after the verdict, “Of course we are disappointed but not surprised and understand the Judge’s logic. Keith is optimistic that he can move forward and put this behind him.”

Eye On Annapolis was live tweeting the proceedings and you can view our comments on our Twitter Feed.

On August 2, 2010, Bear-Bear, a Siberian Husky, was off his leash playing in a designated dog park in the Quail Run community in Severn, MD. Off duty civilian Army police officer, Keith Elgin Shepherd came to the park with his German Shepherd and wife. Shepherd did not remove the leash from his dog and when the dogs began to tussle, he felt threatened and asked Bear-Bear’s handler to call off the dog. When the handler did not react as quickly as Shepherd expected, he pulled a handgun from his waist and shot the Siberian Husky. The dog died in a veterinary hospital shortly after the incident.

Shepherd immediately called Anne Arundel County Police and reported the incident. The initial police investigation was immediately closed by the responding officers; but was re-opened two days later when an outcry of public support reached the desk of Anne Arundel County Executive John R. Leopold. Leopold, an animal lover himself, ordered his appointed Chief of Police, Col. James Teare, to commence a full and thorough investigation into the shooting.

Rally for Bear-Bear the husky who was shot

Justice for Bear-Bear rally outside State's Attorney Frank Wethersbee's office.

The re-opened investigation led to the police forwarding the file to the Anne Arundel County State’s Attorney, Frank Wethersbee to decide if charges and prosecution were warranted. After a two week investigation, Wethersbee’s office decided that the case did indeed merit charging Shepherd. Shepherd was charged with unlawfully discharging a weapon in public and animal cruelty. He was served with the criminal citation on August 28, 2010.  The maximum penalty for both counts is 9 months in jail and $10,000 in fines.

Subsequent to the shooting, the pressure has been kept up by animal rights activists both online and with rallys. The Justice for Bear-Bear facebook group has nearly 16,000 members. The story has gained international attention with the ASPCA and many other animal advocacy groups. Shepherd has since moved from his rented home in Severn and is also a defendant in another lawsuit presumably from his former landlord who is seeking $8887.50 in a contract dispute scheduled for trial on January 18, 2011.

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Comments (17)

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  1. Zak Nilsson says:

    A warning to all the police officers shooting people’s pets out there – you have been put on notice. Precedent has been set. You will not be allowed to get away with it any more.

    As shocking as this may sound, you will now be required to take responsibility for your actions.

    And to Keith Shepherd, who is “optimistic that he can move forward and put this behind him”, it’s too bad you took away Bear-Bear’s chance to do the same… by murdering him. I hope you “move forward” into the path of a speeding train, because that is the best you deserve.

  2. angela rector says:

    so well said zak i hope he is miserable for the rest of his pathetic life. and may bear bear rest now knowing atleast the scumbag was found guilty.

  3. Shelly L says:

    Can I get a clarification? This article is a bit confusing as to whether or not he accepted the PBJ. My assumption is that he did NOT accept it so the judgement will remain on his record but the mention of the option for the PBJ is confusing and irrelevant if he didn’t accept it.


  4. Fred Shubbie says:

    Seems like a reasonable outcome given the totality of the circumstances.

  5. John Frenaye says:

    @Shelly. The judge advised him of what he was going to sentence him to and then offered PBJ. His attorney explained in open court what PBJ meant (no appeal and ability to expunge once judgment satisfied) and Keith Shepherd agreed and accepted it.

    There will be no appeal and as long as he complies with the community service and probation sentence, his only punishment will be the 1 year probation, the 80 hours community service, and a $500 fine plus court costs. The $1000 fine for the other charge was suspended and only comes into play if he violates his probation.

  6. kathy says:

    Well, said zak. Although I am not happy with the out come of the punishment. I am hoping this will be an example to all police departments. Telling them that they now are being held accountable for their officers. Now I am hoping that his employer takes notice and fires him. Cause if I understand clearly now that he is on a years probation by law he can not carry a fire arm as well. This guilty verdict should allow for the civil suit to go infavor of Bearbear’s owners.

  7. marylandmymaryland says:

    good. shepherd is a chump. and his lawyer is a schmuck.

  8. Donna Wolfe says:

    So… a person who carries and uses a HANDGUN in a public park is pretty much ok with the police and justic systems over there? Thank goodness no CHILD attacked his dog, or that Bear’s owner didn’t try to intervien….they may have gotten shot too. Is this man still able to keep his own dog? Will he be shooting it if it gets out of hand?
    And I thought people in backwoods WV were iffy….

  9. truthteller says:

    There was no guilty finding so your headline is inaccurate at best.

  10. John Frenaye says:

    There most certainly was a guilty finding. Before pronouncement, he was offered PBJ which allows his criminal record to be cleared if he completes his probation. Perhaps you are confusing this with an Alford Plea which is a pleading that states the prosecution has enough to convict, but is not an admission of guilt.

  11. Zak Nilsson says:

    truthteller, you may want to rethink your name. Shepherd was absolutely found guilty on both offenses he was charged with. PBJ does not bypass judgment, it simply allows for probation before judgment. He was still judged, and found guilty. Not that hard to understand.

  12. BCPD says:

    There is no law on the books that states just because a person is on probation, they cannot legally carry a gun.

    Also, regarding the “guilty” or not. He was found guilty in a court of law…however, once his probation is served in full and without violations – the record will be expunged from his “public” record. A record of the verdict and finding will still be in a sealed court record, usually only available to law enforcement and the court system.

    Like Fred said, a reasonable outcome.

  13. BCPD says:

    Apologies, let me clarify my first sentence for kathy:

    There is nothing to say because of the crimes he was found guilty of, that he cannot carry a gun.

    Sorry for the confusion there – based on previous replies I did not want to leave that statement before having my head ripped off by the backyard lawyers.

  14. John Frenaye says:

    @BCPD–I do not believe the record is not automatically expunged. There is a process and a waiting period that must be completed before it is expunged.

  15. BCPD says:

    If he had a good lawyer, the lawyer should have filed the affidavit requesting expungement following the completion of the probation. 99% of the time, that is what happens…not to say that this guy is not a good lawyer, but who knows what the filed.

    If he did file this affidavit, there is a record in the court documents that will automatically remove it up to 45-90 days following the succesful completion of his probation. This waiting period usually permits the court officers to close out the record and permit checks to ensure that he did not violate any terms of his sentence.

    The other process is to have the lawyer sue for expungement following completion of probation…this takes while just based on the overloaded court system.

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