A Lehighton man was sentenced to a Carbon County jail term on Tuesday for beating to death a dog and then threatening a person who witnessed the act.
Randy Earl Miller, 21, was sentenced to a total of seven to 14 months in prison by Judge Joseph J. Matika on one count each of cruelty to animals and terrorisitc threats.
The case has a long history dating back to March 24, 2006, when state police at Lehighton arrested Miller for an incident in Weissport.
Miller was observed by several juveniles walking a pit bull/chow mix dog into nearby woods with a shovel in his hand. The juveniles got suspicious and followed Miller. They saw him hit the dog with the shovel several times. When the dog went down he then shot it with a pistol.
After killing the dog Miller threatened to kill the juveniles if they told anyone what they saw. The juveniles then called state police.
Miller did not admit shooting the dog but did admit hitting and killing it with the shovel.
At the time of the incident he told troopers that his girlfriend, Wendy Collen Kneller, now referred to as Wendy Miller, told him to kill the dog because it allegedly bit her young child. He said he considered the dog dangerous.
The case has a long history. Miller and Kneller went on trial in September 2006 in the county court. Miller was found guilty of cruelty to animals and a threats count and Kneller of criminal conspiracy.
He filed an appeal of the conviction and the state Superior Court affirmed the conviction for the threats charge but sent the case back for reconsideration on the cruelty of animals count. Miller entered a guilty plea to the charge earlier this year which led to yesterday's proceeding.
Matika said although state law permits the destroying of an animal by its owner it should be done in a humane manner. "Hitting a dog with a shovel to kill it is not a humane manner," Matika said.
Matika imposed a jail term of one to two months on the threats count and six to 12 months on the cruelty charge, running the terms consecutively.
He also ordered Miller to get both a drug and alcohol and mental health evaluations and follow any recommendations for treatment, attend and complete anger management counseling, zero tolerance on D&A use, render a total of 60 hours of community service, pay court costs, pay a $50 per month supervison fee while on parole, and have no contact with the juvenile in the threat case.
He was given credit for one day spent in jail on the charge and began the jail term immediately.