As both a criminal defense lawyer and a voracious consumer of news, I can tell you this: When it comes to crime, few offenses garner as much public outcry as ones that involve abuse of animals.
One such story is one that happened this past January, and it is again dominating headlines: The stabbing death of Rocco, a Pittsburgh police dog.
The fate of the man accused in the case, John Rush, is now in the hands of a jury, which will decide if he is guilty or innocent of charges that include aggravated assault, abusing a police animal, resisting arrest, and cruelty to animals.
Testimony in the case has been splashed all over the news – and today, the defense is seemingly what has everyone talking again.
That’s because the criminal defense attorney has said his client acted in self-defense. On the stand, Rush said that he didn’t intend to kill the dog, and that he never tried to stab human officers. He also claims he responded to the order cops gave to shout out and that they sent the dog in, anyway.
For those unfamiliar: Rush, a convicted sex offender who was allegedly evading police attempting to pick him up on a bench warrant, reportedly ran to the basement of a building he had broken into when officers knocked on the door. He is accused of stabbing the canine when the animal encountered him there – testifying that he had “no idea” there were four warrants out for his arrest.
Rocco’s killing prompted several local lawmakers to introduce legislation called “Rocco’s Law,” which called for steeper penalties in cases where police dogs are killed in the line of duty.
Then-Governor Tom Corbett signed the bill – which revised the Pennsylvania crime code to make killing a police dog a second-degree felony – into law in July. The offense now carries a penalty of up to $25,000 in fines and as many as 10 years in jail.
One can be charged with murder in the second degree in Pennsylvania if he commits a homicide or were about to commit a felony. Considered to be one of the most serious crimes here, one may even be liable to life imprisonment for this. Therefore, you will immediately require a criminal defense attorney who will effectively guide you at every step of the criminal proceedings, building a strong defense for you. Only an experienced Pittsburgh Criminal Defense Attorney can help you out with these kinds of serious cases.
It is recommended that you don’t argue nor anger the police officer upon being arrested. You might be held overnight in jail, but be careful enough to not discuss the details of the case with the police claiming your innocence. You should not utter a word without the presence of your attorney. Anything might be taken out of context and used against you. A skilled and proficient lawyer will be able to analyze every aspect of your case and check whether there is any evidence against you. It is the duty of your lawyer to look into every avenue, collect all the relevant information and take every initiative to discredit all the evidence unfavorable to your case, although much of it will depend on the exact situation of your case. So, be very careful when you hire your Pittsburgh Criminal Defense Attorney and share every minute detail with him.
Given all the news and legislative attention this case has received, I, for one, am very curious to see what the jury decides.
After going home for the weekend, the jury was back in deliberations on Monday morning. In the end, their decision was to convict. They were reportedly “deeply affected” by what they heard and saw during the trial.
As I said above, when an injured or killed animal is at the center of a criminal case, people are outraged. It’s not surprising that jurors were affected. It’s my guess that anyone reading about it in the papers was, as well.