published Wednesday, May 11th, 2011

Animal cruelty trial in Chattanooga ends in hung jury

Roger Dale Beason watches jury selection Monday in Judge Don Poole's courtroom as his trial begins on charges of aggravated cruelty to animals. Sitting with him is defense attorney Erinn O'Leary.
Staff Photo by John Rawlston/Chattanooga Times Free Press
May 9, 2011
Roger Dale Beason watches jury selection Monday in Judge Don Poole's courtroom as his trial begins on charges of aggravated cruelty to animals. Sitting with him is defense attorney Erinn O'Leary. Staff Photo by John Rawlston/Chattanooga Times Free Press May 9, 2011

A Hamilton County jury could not reach a verdict in the aggravated animal cruelty trial of a 36-year-old Whitwell man.

The “hung jury” deliberated for nearly three and a half hours in the two-day trial of Roger Dale Beason.

The 36-year-old Whitwell man was on trial on charges of aggravated animal cruelty for shooting a dog in the snout with an arrow.

Criminal Court Judge Don Poole dismissed the jury, which was split 7 to 5. Seven jurors favored a not guilty verdict, five thought Beason was guilty.

He scheduled a June 1 hearing for the case to determine what will happen next. Beason could face another trial or the prosecutor and his defense attorney, Assistant Public Defender Erinn O'Leary, could reach a plea agreement.

Assistant District Attorney General Lance Pope said he thanked those involved in the case but said the district attorney's office has not decided if attorneys will re-try Beason.

Beason testified Tuesday that he was terrified as he left work and heard the dog growling beneath his pickup truck. He then ran around the side of the truck, grabbed his compound bow and fired an arrow into the dog.

The dog was later euthanized due to its injuries.

Co-workers and animal rescue officers testified Tuesday that the stray, black German Shepherd mix was both friendly and aggressive.

For complete details see tomorrow’s Chattanooga Times Free Press.

about Todd South...

Todd South covers courts, poverty, technology, military and veterans for the Times Free Press. He has worked at the paper since 2008 and previously covered crime and safety in Southeast Tennessee and North Georgia. Todd’s hometown is Dodge City, Kan. He served five years in the U.S. Marine Corps and deployed to Iraq before returning to school for his journalism degree from the University of Georgia. Todd previously worked at the Anniston (Ala.) Star. Contact ...

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steelhope said...

I agree, especially since the majority of the jurors had found him not guilty. Taking him back to trial would not be fiscally prudent on the part of the District Attorney's office.

May 11, 2011 at 3:37 p.m.
barbiedolljo said...

I believe he should not have been tried in the first place. I'm really tired of people preferring animal rights over human rights.

May 11, 2011 at 4:36 p.m.
Soos54 said...

@barbiedolljo Funny, I'm really tired of people not understanding that you can care about animal rights AS WELL AS human rights. One does not negate the other - it is not mutually exclusive. In fact, I believe that people who care about animals are able to care about humans even more than those who do not care about animals. Bottom line is, it's animal cruelty for shooting a dog in the face with an arrow. The dog didn't die immediately but suffered, running around with an arrow in it's head and in an undoubtedly unbelievable amount of fear and pain. As a society, we don't euthanize animals this inhumanely - we're supposed to be better than that.

May 11, 2011 at 5:24 p.m.
sscholfield said...

I'm with you Soos54 - I'm moving to the Chattanooga area this fall and I sure hope the majority of folks feel the way you do!

May 11, 2011 at 6:10 p.m.
chriskarr58 said...

As a member of the jury I believe this man was truthful. How do any of us know how we would act if a stray dog that had been growling and showing its teeth would act. Not the first time this stray had put someone in danger. This man was protecting his well being for his families sake. He has pets of his own. If McKamey was so worried bout it they should have picked up the dog when the multiple calls came in the dog was frightening people and not letting them out of their cars. McKamey is here to protect us from animals like this and instead of taking care this man had to. McKamey told us they were under staffed. If that's they case how come around ten of their employees and followers where sitting in the court room for two days. They don't care about people and when someone harms an animal they go after them and its ridiculous they would choose this animal over a man's life that was approached by this dog. He is a husband and father that was protecting his well being for his family. Who is to say I would have not done the same thing when in a fight or flight situation? Or even you?

May 11, 2011 at 8:29 p.m.
khargis said...

Remember when this guy was first arrested, and he said that he shot the dog because he was having a bad day, and the dog was there? Now, it's self-defense. I hope his legal fees are astronomically high.

I don't hope this because I believe animals have more rights than humans (I don't believe animals have rights at all, other than those which exist in the state of nature). I hope this because of the poor stewardship this man displayed.

It is our responsibility to be good stewards. Killing an animal for food, in self-defense, to protect other animals or the environment, or simply to put it out of it's misery is one thing; causing an animal to suffer as an exercise in cruelty is another thing all together.

May 11, 2011 at 8:33 p.m.
khargis said...

If he did shoot the dog in self-defense, he is a VERY poor shot, as he hit it in the snout.

May 11, 2011 at 8:36 p.m.
chriskarr58 said...

I just think it ridiculous this man is tried when protecting himself. He did not sight the animal in. At the range he was in with a broadheaded arrow and a full draw the arrow would have went completely through the dog. But this man was put in this situation because simply McKamey did not do its job to protect these peoplw when called upon multiple times. Where is their trial? If this guy was seriously attack by this stray do you think he would be able to press charges against McKamey? Ya right. I know women that have been physically abused and cops just say whatever but now it a dog an an organization is involved its a big deal. What is wrong with human beings today. A bunch of people that care more for dogs and the well being of this man.

May 11, 2011 at 9:14 p.m.
NoMyth said...

Beason's story doesn't hold water...if you are terrified, then you do not walk toward what is causing you so much anguish. Over the long-term, perhaps Whitwell should improve its animal licensing efforts and require pets to be neutered and fine owners of stray animals. There is no greater tell-tale sign of a backward hick town than numerous stray dogs and cats.

May 11, 2011 at 11:22 p.m.
mldavis said...

I and a small group have been at every hearing date for Mr Beason for the last year and a half. The last day and a half, I ( along with a small group of others) sat thru jury selection, the trial and waiting for the verdict. The state of TN has laws regarding animal cruelty , with appropriate charges for the act committed. This case was not about humans liking animals better humans, or McKameys actions. THis was about an act by an individual who violated a TN law. What is interesting is that other witnesses said they were uneasy around the dog, but took reasonable measures to avoid the dog. Other witnesses were able to feed and pet her. His words on the day of the shooting" I was high stepping because the dog was near him and afraid( 35 feet), but rather than jumping in the cab of his truck, he had time to remove the compound bow, knock it up and ( he has been hunting since elementary school) shoot the her. Obvioulsy, he didn't feel that threatened. As one potential juror stated during jury selection, you aim for the heart , so the animal doesn't suffer. If you miss, you find the animal ( deer) and don't let if suffer. Mr Beason, after such a heinous act, got in his truck to go home. In addition, during the trail, several times, jurors were napping. How they were able to gather all the facts , I don't know. Finally, the Judge was explaining the process for the deliberation, he read for about ten minutes explaining to the jurors what was expected of them. Again, napping juror. THey were given the written document to take with them. It would have taken them at least an hour to review and have a basic understanding of what was written. ONe interesting note per the instructions is that if a witness appeared to not be credible , one might not take their testimony as being truthful, and take that into consideration when deliberating. AT least one JIT current employee could not even remember that he had called McKamey, even when shown the phone log by the DA . Beason has had several DUI's and even charged with rape (as a minor) . All public record. He has learned how to play the system. This case was about laws, which he violated. I applaud the DA"s office, for charging Beason. Education for our community is the only way to change ignorance for those who believe that animal cruelty is acceptable.

May 12, 2011 at 12:03 a.m.
mldavis said...

One other comment. Beason, who lives in another county, could not afford legal counsel, so after months of attempting to find an attorney, he requested a public defender. So, in addition to Beason committing a crime in a county where he doesn't live, our PD's office footed the bill. So if one is upset with the cost of this trial, please thank Beason.

May 12, 2011 at 12:10 a.m.
chriskarr58 said...

Wow what a testimony... I feel like you were there at the scene lady. If you remember Beason was the only one there. He was the only one being put in the situation at the time. He acted and no I don't think the dog deserved it but as a husband and father he was protecting himself from this animal. This was not a pet. You talk about the animal was 35 feet away where you there again. Mr. Beason stated that the animal was the trucks distance away. If that is 35 feet I don't know what to say to you. The McKamey officer said maybe from me (in the stand) to that chair which was about 20. How did the McKamey officer know? Mr. Beason left then came back, how did this man know a distance? You talk about a hunter killing a deer in the kill zone. Ok first of all the dog was never sighted in with the bow which determined there was an inaccurate shot. Next this man was scared of the dog. What would have happened if he would have waited one more second and the dog attacked and killed this man. He would be leaving a family behind. All I have to say if your so worried about these animals why were you and your group along with McKamey employees sitting in a court room for two days when you could be out saving these animals you so dearly care about for the two days instead of worrying about hoping to watch a man's life ruined. It's people like you that always have something to say about something but we see no action from you. If McKamey or yourself would have picked up this dog after the several calls made to McKamey ended up unanswered this man would have never been put in this situation. Also the lady that worked at Greenlife, if she was so wonderful with strays how come she didn't help this animal. Maybe next time you bring an argument to the table you need to know the facts of the trial because I'm starting to believe you were sleeping during the trial. People like you and the media get on hereband try to destroy peoples life because your unhappy with you own life you have to bring the man even down further. You bring up his past and call yourself someone that cares. You are cold hearted and it people like you that ruin this world. How do you not know this man has changed since his past? What a great American you are...

May 12, 2011 at 7:21 p.m.
mldavis said...

To Mr. Karr,

I feel that I need to make some corrections to your statements addressed at me. First, I am not affiliated with McKamey Animal Shelter. My position in society has no bearing as to why I choose to be in court to observe this trial. You seem comfortable in judging me without any facts. Second, my reference to the 35 feet were Beason's words, not mine. Third, you have no way to know what I am or am not doing to reduce the unwanted number of animals roaming our city, county and state. Fourth, if you are concerned at all about avoiding a situation such as this in the future, maybe you could jump on the bandwagon and spread the news about the importance of spaying and neutering cats and dogs in Hamilton County. This would have a dual purpose. Maybe eliminate the need for shelters and use that money for humans, ie: education, food stamps, etc. Fifth, I was alert at the trial and took pages of notes. I based my opinion on what facts I heard. I was not passing judgement on anyone, unlike you, passing judgment on me. Sixth, His past is public record, which everyone has access to at anytime. This is factual . Seventh, I am very happy, I have a wonderful, fulfilling life. One child in private school, GPS to be exact..( Check your notes and see where Beason's child goes to school) and one in college. I am college educated and try to make a difference in our community. These are facts that I am giving to you, Mr.Karr. I am proud to live in this country where your opinions and mine can be expressed and have no fear of consequences. You seem to have allowed your personal opinions to judge me, with no facts at all. Education regarding humane animal care is needed in our community. Just because society has allowed this sort of behavior for years, doesn't mean it is right.

May 12, 2011 at 9:16 p.m.
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