Hung jury in dog-dragging case

7:42 PM, Feb 22, 2012   |    comments
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  • Little Brown Dog is ready to leave the UT Vet. School.
  • Jimmy Lovell

A judge has declared a mistrial in the case of a man accused of dragging a dog behind his truck.

After a couple of hours of deliberation, a jury told Judge Bob McGee a verdict could not be reached.

"It's a hung jury," the forewoman said.

The defendant, 47-year-old Jimmy Lovell, was charged with felony aggravated animal cruelty.

On Nov. 3, 2009, investigators say Lovell dragged a dog, later dubbed Little Brown Dog, through his neighborhood, despite pleas from onlookers.

On Wednesday, Lovell took the stand in his own defense.

Prosecutors had argued Lovell intended to harm the dog, citing witness testimony that he cursed at bystanders when he finally stopped and yanked the dog back into the truck by the leash.

But Lovell told the jury he had no reason to be angry at the dog or the dog's owner, his girlfriend at the time.

He said he was outside talking with a friend when one of them looped the dog's leash around his truck hitch.

Later, after taking a phone call inside and gathering his tools for a job, he forgot about the dog and didn't see it when he left his house on Pilkay Road that afternoon.

He drove several hundred feet to the stop sign at Knott Avenue and Liberty Street when he first noticed there were people yelling. He testified that, at first, he didn't know they were yelling at him, so he turned and continued driving before finally pulling over about 40 feet down the road.

He said it was only then he realized the dog was still tied to his truck.

"I stopped, and they was hollering at me and stuff, and I said, 'Oh, God, I forgot about the dog that was behind the truck,'" he testified. "I can't, I just didn't know what to do, I just didn't know what to do."

Lovell said he picked up the dog and drove her back to his house, where he put her inside. He said he didn't think the dog's injuries were serious and that he could not afford to pay for a vet.

Much of the beginning of Lovell's testimony focused on his upbringing and work. 

He said he did not finish high school and supported himself by working on cars for friends. He was on his way to fix a friend's car the day the dog was dragged.

He also talked about several head injuries he had throughout his life, beginning in childhood, and admitted he had trouble reading and writing.

His friend, Asa Hobbs, testified Lovell was not angry the day the dog was dragged, adding that both men were there when the dog's leash was placed on the truck's hitch, and neither can remember which of them put it there.

After closing arguments, the jurors took a couple of hours for lunch and deliberations but could not reach a decision.

Upon leaving the courtroom, Lovell again told reporters the incident was an accident.

"I'm sorry that it happened," he said.

The judge set a new trial date of Aug. 7.

Previous story

The Knoxville man accused of dragging a dog behind his truck testified in his own defense Wednesday morning.

Jimmy Lovell told the court that the whole thing was an accident.  He said he'd been working on his truck that day, and had tied the dog to the truck and forgot about it.

A friend of Lovell's, Asa Hobbs, also testified that Lovell forgot the dog was tied to the truck because they were so busy working.

The defense rested just before noon.  After closing arguments, the jury should begin deliberating.

Previous story

Trial begins Tuesday for a Knoxville man accused of dragging a dog behind his truck.

Jimmy Lovell, 45, was charged with a felony count of aggravated cruelty to animals. 

In November 2009, investigators said Lovell dragged the little terrier mix down Middlebrook Pike, while onlookers frantically tried to stop him.  Witnesses said Lovell finally stopped, picked up the  nearly lifeless dog, and threw him in the truck.  The dog was later found abandoned on Sutherland Avenue.
The dog, who was named Little Brown Dog, by her rescuers, finally recovered and was adopted.

A jury was selected Tuesday morning, and opening statements began at 1:30 pm.

Prosecutors argued that Lovell intentionally harmed the dog, and kept driving despite the attempts of several people to stop him as the incident unfolded.   The state also says Lovell refused to take the dog to a veterinarian.

Lovell's attorney says Lovell was distracted and didn't realize the dog was still tied to the truck, and he panicked when people started chasing him because he didn't know what they wanted.
He also said Lovell couldn't afford vet care.

Testimony in the case will continue Wednesday.

A small crowd of animal lovers gathered outside the City County building to show their support for Little Brown Dog.

They say they wanted to show their support for the law enforcement agencies and others involved in handling the case and caring for Little Brown Dog.

The group also said they hope the case brings more attention to animal abuse.

"Hopefully the awareness we bring in this case will save the next dog or save the next animal, save the next person. It's not a big leap for a person who would abuse an animal this way to a person who would abuse or harm another person," said Jim Ham.

Supporters said the best way to help raise more awareness in cases like this is to donate to Young-Williams Animal Center.


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