WARNING – THIS STORY CONTAINS DISTURBING CONTENT
Q13 reported Tuesday that a Thurston County judge sentenced James L. Evans to a year in jail for killing a dog by hanging it from a tree last year.
Judge Carol Murphy sentenced Evans after he pled guilty to first degree animal cruelty.
Diamond was a 3-year-old pit bull mix that was a therapy dog for an 8-year-old boy. Evans had been keeping Diamond for the boy’s relative while she looked for dog friendly housing. He told police he hung the Diamond because she killed his iguana.
A biker found Diamond hanging from a tree on Department of Natural Resources property near Summit Lake. According to court documents Diamond’s toes barely touched the ground, and her front legs were clutching the tree trunk. You could see the scratch marks she left on the bark as she struggled to escape.
A necropsy showed she died from asphyxiation; it also showed evidence of severe trauma to the dog’s anus and rectum.
The Thurston County Prosecutor’s Office originally charged Evans with first-degree animal cruelty but later amended the charge to “first-degree animal cruelty with an aggravating circumstance and/or with sexual motivation.”
This was an important distinction because it would have allowed Judge Murphy to increase Evans’ sentence if he had been convicted.
Unfortunate Language Mitigate Law’s Effectiveness
But he law specifically states that prosecutors would have had to prove Evans sexually abused Diamond “for the purpose of sexual gratification or arousal,”
This provision is ridiculous. Not only is it virtually impossible to prove, study after study has shown that with humans, rape is a crime of power, not passion or sexual arousal, so why should charging someone with sexually abusing an animal be contingent on “sexual gratification or arousal”?
Evans didn’t abuse and Diamond for his sexual pleasure; he did it because she killed his iguana.
“We all wanted a lot more time than that but unfortunately, their hands were tied with the way the RCW Reads right now,” said Thurston County Animal Services Officer Erika Johnson told Q13. “The way the law reads, prosecutors would have had to prove Evans committed the rape for ‘for the purpose of sexual gratification or arousal of the person’. That’s obviously something that’s very hard to prove.”
Officer Johnson and several members of the Facebook group Justice (Just”Us”) for Diamond
pledged to work with the Legislature to remove the sexual gratification/arousal provision from the current law.
“While we are all frustrated and saddened by the outcome of this, I really would plead with the community to push forward, support us in changing the law, making it a stronger law, to put their anger to good use,” Johnson told Q13.
I plan to honor Diamonds memory by participating in the effort to remove the “sexual gratification/arousal loophole” in the current animal cruelty law. If you’d like to help, join the Justice (Just”Us”) for Diamond Facebook page and watch for announcements.