deliberation has begun…

We heard closing arguments this morning and the jury has been charged with the task at hand. The photo is a street scene in front of the courthouse. I realized when I was cropping it that the people standing outside there are Pilotti and his familial supporters. But there is no expectation of privacy in a public space, is there?

20130911-140152.jpg

justice for argus & fiona: pilotti trial day 1

argus and fiona

I now understand why reporters say sometimes what they see in a court room haunts them.  I will be haunted a long time by the crime scene photos which were shown of the slain Bernese Mountain Dog puppies Argus & Fiona.

The  scene photos (I am not a police officer so I don’t know what  to call them), were not intentionally gruesome, they were what they were. (We saw a photo of the shotgun too.  It was not one that repeats, either, which means the buck shot had to deliberately reloaded, correct?) There seemed to be some sort of quiet sidebar conversation as in jury and audience could not hear) before the audience, judge, and jury saw the photos.  I am thinking it had to do with the photos – but I don’t know for sure.

The photos – Argus lay there on the ground like he was shot in mid-flight.  He seemed to be facing away from us.  Then there was the photo of the female puppy Fiona. This photo made me cry (several things made me tear up this afternoon- so much was so hard to hear)  it was so heart and gut wrenchingly awful.  Fiona was curled in a semi fetal position staring at the camera with lifeless eyes. That is the photo I will see in my head for a long time it is so awful.

But back to the beginning.  Three papers were there: Philadelphia Inquirer, Daily Local and Brandywine News Media.  There were Argus and Fiona friends and family and supporters on one side and Gabe Pilotti had a mish mosh of people on his side.  I never saw the man in person before today so I have no way of knowing who was family and who might have been church folk. I will note that whomever they are had minor children with them, who were in the room when the photos of the shot up dogs were displayed.  Not to judge, but would you have wanted your children to see that? The smiling Pilotti from the mug shot was not present today.

Ramsey, Pilotti’s attorney referred to a “media campaign” over this issue.  He seemed to make a lot of referrals to the Justice for Argus and Fiona Facebook Page and obliquely this blog (or in my opinion that is what it was) like we were all bad people for talking about this.  Judge Nagle seemed to shut this commentary down on several occasions as being somewhat irrelevant to the case at hand.

Pilotti’s attorney was somewhat brutal with the Bocks.  But that is a defense attorney doing their job I suppose.  I do think the defense attorney was unnecessarily hard on Mary Bock in particular – asked her something like did she have remorse over the whole incident.  My personal opinion was that asking something like that was gratuitously nasty.  She was practically in tears having to relive parts of that awful day as it was.

Pilotti’s attorney seemed to make a big deal out of these neighbors of Pilotti’s that the Bocks used to be friendly with – people named Dallas and Kelley Definbaugh.  I wonder, are those the people holding Pilotti’s gun?  Anyway, it is not like it is some dirty secret.  The couples used to be friendly, more from the wives knowing each other and kids being in same sections of classes at school.  But that changed. The kids moved on into different groups and classes at school and the wives don’t hang out any more.  So what?  Do you keep in close contact with people with whom you no longer share any meaningful commonality? I don’t.

I wouldn’t know the Definbaugh people if I fell on them, and am just getting to know the Bocks, so I can only go with my gut.  I like the Bocks.  They are honorable people who experienced something so horrible.  And when you see the photos of those dead puppies from that day and hear about how they were moved in a front end loader or a tractor or something to the township building the day they were shot, well let me tell you, you get a much more clear picture of how these people have suffered.

Remember this news report?

I also did not get why Pilotti’s attorney kept bringing up a letter that Mary Bock wrote to her neighbors after her dogs were shot. I mean get real, there are tons of kids out there and tons of people with dogs.  If she wanted to tell her neighbors is that so wrong?

And Pilotti’s attorney wants to make a big deal out of this blog?  I did not drive his client to shoot those dogs.  And I am not condoning violence against his client, only like hundreds of others out there hoping for justice and a strengthening of Pennsylvania dog laws.

Today we heard from Officer Russell from West Vincent Police Department.  He was the first on the scene and apparently present later when Pilotti was interviewed by police. He seems like a totally honorable and stand up guy.  He also seems to be some sort of authority on fire arms and he spoke with some intelligence about the gun used – a 20 gauge single shot non repeating shot-gun with 9 pellet buck shot if I have it correctly.

Officer Russell recounted that fateful February day calmly with some degree of detail. He remarked that at the time (as in day of shooting) he found Pilotti’s answers “vague”. (his verbiage) . He reported that on the day of the shooting in front of the Police Chief he asked Pilotti for a written statement to assist in the investigation. He stated that Pilotti in his opinion seemed hesitant to do so, but eventually went back to his garage and sat down and compiled a “list”. Officer Russell also described seeing the dogs.  He reported that Argus took a fairly direct hit to the head and the dog’s head was “kind of blown apart.” He described Fiona’s position (that I saw in the photos) and the blood coming out of her mouth and I believe he said on her paws.  I will admit the photo of her so disturbed me that I could not get past the quasi fetal position and lifeless eyes staring at the camera.

District Attorney Tom Hogan appeared in court to watch for a while at approximately 3:45 p.m.  That made people sit up and take notice – he is a busy guy so you know he can’t audit every court proceeding.  I was thankful for his presence.

I stayed until just before the defense was going to cross-examine Officer Russell.  People in the court room said that got out of hand.  I remember before I left Officer Russell stating that they wanted to talk to Pilotti again because “something did not seem right.”

Pilotti’s attorney at one point referred to when Pilotti had shot dogs before, but West Vincent locals told me that those dogs were shot on a neighbors property because the neighbor’s animals were being mauled and is that not the truth?  So that was something different from when Argus and Fiona were shot, huh?

And I have to ask (bearing in mind my limited knowledge of buck shot) but if  Argus and Fiona were actually pursuing sheep why is it the audience and jury didn’t hear about injured sheep? Or see photos of bloodied sheep or dead sheep? I ask because as buck shot was explained today to everyone in that courtroom it sort of spreads or sprays out, right?

Watching the face of the jury all afternoon was quite interesting.  That is all I will say on that.

Court continues tomorrow at the Criminal Justice Center in Downtown West Chester, PA.  I strongly urge dog lovers to attend if possible. The Bock family and the memory of these puppies deserve our support in a peaceful way as an extended community.  It is a public proceeding and the courtroom is open, not closed. You can go to all or part of tomorrow.  Parking is not expensive in the new garage, either. You just park, go through the court screening and ask to be directed to Judge Nagle’s court (7th floor room 8 off the top of my head)

Today was deeply disturbing and very emotional. But I am glad I went. It makes me even more resolute than ever that dog laws need to change.

And here is some of the media coverage:

Trial begins for 73-year-old accused of killing neighbor’s dogs
Mari A. Schaefer, Inquirer Staff Writer 

Posted: Monday, September 9, 2013, 4:54 PM

In a case that outraged animal-rights activists and generated national  attention, a trial began Monday for a Chester County man charged with killing  his neighbor’s dogs because he believed they posed a threat to his sheep.

Gabriel Pilotti, 73, of Chester Springs, was charged with cruelty to animals  for shooting the two Bernese mountain dogs — 2-year-old Angus and 1-year-old  Fiona — after they had escaped the fenced yard of their owners, Mary and  William Bock….In his opening statement, Kevin Pierce, assistant district attorney said  Pilotti willfully and maliciously killed the two dogs in cold blood and then  left a voice message for a neighbor bragging about the incident……Argus was shot in the head as he  trotted up toward Pilotti and that Fiona was shot as she ran away. Pilotti did  not try to yell at the dogs or chase them away with a broom, he said.

“He choose to go to the most extreme measure first,” said Pierce.

Also noteworthy?  The Chester County SPCA which is currently under fire in Chester County and beyond did NOT bother to show up today.  I found that extraordinarily cowardly.  They should have put the other stuff aside and shown up for the dogs.  Good thing no one was depending on them for anything.

Here is the Daily Local:

Daily Local: Motives differ as trial starts in dog shooting case

WEST CHESTER – Gabriel Pilotti, the 73-year-old West Vincent resident on trial for shooting two dogs that wandered onto his property, was portrayed in two different lights Monday as his case opened in the Chester County Justice Center.

To the prosecutor, Pilotti was a trigger happy man who shot first and asked no questions – taking the matter of dogs in his pasture to the “most extreme measure” by killing the two dogs without provocation.

“This is a simple case of a cold blooded killing of two family pets,” Assistant District Attorney Kevin Pierce told the nine women and three men on the jury in Senior Judge Ronald Nagle’s courtroom. He said the defendant “mowed down” one of the dogs as he “moseyed” toward him, and then reloaded his shotgun and shot and killed the second, younger dog as it ran from the yard.

media advisory: justice for argus & fiona trial set for jury selection monday, sept. 9

argus-and-fionaIt’s to be a very dog-centric week on this blog, apparently. The day of justice is nigh.  We received word via the Bock family this morning that jury selection begins Monday, September 9th:

announce

This odyssey began for me on February 19th when I saw a cross-post about these puppies who were shot on a friend’s Facebook page.

Then I heard this:

Since February we have suffered the ups and downs of this case with the Bock family.  We have rallied and supported the family as a community.  And as a community of Chester County residents and dog lovers it is time to come together PEACEABLY and show our support for the Bock family and in a  PEACEABLE manner express our hopes for justice.  We need justice so the family has closure.

pilottiThat does NOT mean going anywhere near Gabe Pilotti, unless you don’t want him to face a judge and jury of his peers and be held accountable? Unless you want him to become the victim in this tragedy in place of the true victims: the Bock family and two deceased Bernese Mountain Dog puppies.

Here is the docket: CP-15-CR-0001099-2013  – that is a fluid web-based docket, so you can also follow it online.

Justice for Argus & Fiona can be considered a necessary component or step in reforming dog laws can’t it?

The Chester County Courthouse is in downtown West Chester, PA. Consult the court’s website for directions.

back in the saddle

pretty

Snapped this photo while on vacation in Amagansett, NY recently.  If I were a horse I would want to live at Stony Hill Stables.  That place is immaculate and the animals so happy.  And yes, they have a few retired race horses living there with all the right paperwork too I am told.

This photo was just such a beautiful and peaceful, yet unpretentious scene so thank you for the indulgence.  I have a LOT of photos to share from the trip, I am still editing (I took over 1000 photos).

Back in the saddle getting back to everyday life means more gardening and barn picking and all that good stuff! Back in the saddle also means getting back to some of the blogging of it all.

I am not some blogging newbie.  I have been at this long before it was either fashionable or trendy.

Some might not care for my opinion or some other blogger’s opinion, but opinion is one of those great things allowed in the USA courtesy of our founding fathers.

Just because I blog it does not make me a free publicist or phtographer.  I get paid for that if that is what you want.

I also always do my research and trust me there are a lot of people who should deeply appreciate the fact I do not let loose with all the info I dig up on the public record. My sources, generally speaking are honest and above-board, and as a source I am also trusted by the media….because I do my homework. So have a care. And if you want to split hairs and play semantic monopoly, that is fine. But don’t play me or play passive-aggressive patty-cake.  Fibs always come out. And telling people different stories catches up with people, it’s a tough game to maintain, yes?

This blog is different from the purely activism/civic activist- based blogging I used to do, but occasionally you will find that here because there are just things I believe in.

Take Justice for Argus & Fiona – the two Bernese Mountain Dog puppies shot months ago.  Their family and dog lovers everywhere are still waiting for justice to be served.  Mr. Pilotti now apparently wants a jury trial of his peers, so apparently from what the Bocks tell us via the Chester County District Attorney’s office that has yet to be scheduled and there is to be no plea deal – another rumor we heard.

Mr. Pilotti we have not forgotten.  Chester County DA? We have not forgotten.  What he did was wrong. It was intolerable cruelty. And it is really frustrating to be doing things the right way from our end, yet there is no justice and the dog laws have not moved one bit.

And for those hopping all over my back because I think West Vincent and the District Attorney should have confiscated the gun used to shoot the dogs pending the outcome of a trial? Get over yourselves. That is not something unusual.  What is unusual is the fact that one simple thing never happened did it?

Here is the docket link.  The first page has a docket entry of bitter end of summer for a new trial date but have no way of knowing if it is for real.  My somewhat jaded opinion is it would be easier for the District Attorney and Mr. Pilotti if everyone forgot about the dead puppies but why should we? So it can happen again?

But what do we expect with anything having to do with West Vincent? Normalcy?

Hankin_Settlement

Speaking of West Vincent, Chickenman just celebrated his 4th anniversary.  Everyone should read his anniversary message because if you live in West Vincent with this local government no one can afford to be an ostrich with their head in the sand can they?

Chickenman 4th Anniversary Missive

http://chickenman.medianewsonline.com/

And in the whole West Vincent of it all, another thing I believe in is the preservation of Birchrunville Village.  So check out the flyer titled BirchrunvilleFlyer – you had beter get involved if you love the village because it is about to be super-sized if government officials get their way. a development plan proposes to insert 3 additional buildings plus parking for almost 50 cars, effectively creating a commercial strip mall in front of the historic schoolhouse building!

Birchrunville People sent out a message:

Please join concerned residents for a discussion at the Birchrunville Café on Saturday August 17 at 10AM.  Learn what you can do to help make sure township ordinances are properly enforced in order to retain the character of this historic village. Also…Please attend the next scheduled Board of Supervisors meeting on Monday August 26. For more information, please check out the web site http://birchrunvillepeople.com

I hope everyone is having a delightful summer!  As always, thanks for stopping by!

back to the dogs

Argus FionaArgus & Fiona the beautiful puppies gunned down in West Vincent are never far from our minds.  We are so happy that the generosity of so many have helped the Bock family begin to heal, but we sit and we wait for justice to be served. (and the photo is from one of the folks on the Justice For Argus & Fiona Page – isn’t it cute? Thanks Lynne!)

Surely intolerable cruelty will not go unanswered, right?

I can report that as per the Bock family,  Mr. Pilotti was arraigned yesterday – it was scheduled for today originally. The DA told Mary Bock that the trial will be within 180 days, except I pulled the docket and see a trial date for mid-May so I do not know what to think.  In my opinion I see these dates as fluid, but I am not a lawyer.

I was distressed to hear that perhaps the District Attorney’s office is unhappy with all the media attention? If true, what did they expect? The beloved puppies of a family with a bunch of small kids got shot in cold blood, so is the public NOT supposed to be outraged?

I also hear that Mr. Pilotti’s gun has not yet been confiscated, and shouldn’t it have been? (things are much easier when you just watch Law & Order on TV, right?) And I have been told by those who know better than I that the weapon he used to shoot those dogs should have been confiscated pending the outcome of the trial quite a while ago, so why hasn’t it? Does he dress it up and call it Bessie or something?

So here is the docket – it lists the ADA assigned as a Kevin Pierce .  I will also provide the link to where I downloaded it – on the PA Unified Judicial System Web site.

Please keep those letters, calls and e-mails going to elected officials about changing the laws and this case BUT we remain firm on we don’t want hate speech on the Facebook page or here, and cannot condone violence or inappropriate behavior.

This issue will soon have a day in court and we hope PEACEABLY many will join the Bocks on that day.  But until then, please give Chester Springs a break.  There should be no sight-seeing tour, that is gruesome.

You will note one other thing on the docket I am about to post. And that is Mr. Pilotti has applied for ARD. ARD is Accelerated Rehabilitation Disposition. It is a program in PA designed for first-time non-violent offenders.  People who get DUIs the first time often go through this if accepted.

I hate to split hairs or be mean about it, but how is it Mr. Pilotti considers himself non-violent?  Wouldn’t you think it would be quite embarrassing and impossible for the District Attorney to allow this?  Does someone who shoots dogs and then leaves voice mails for neighbors about it qualify as non-violent?  Please note this isn’t a gun thing – this is a HOW he used the gun thing.

The docket currently lists May 15th for the court date of the criminal trial.  However, like I said, if the District Attorney’s office has suddenly grown media shy, there may be another incidence of hidey-case and they might quick move it again, but we hope for the best, right?  We would hate to think that the District Attorney doesn’t really care about this, right?

argus & fiona’s laws? can we do that?

DSC_0105I woke up thinking of the laws that need to change, and in my mind a bunch of things need to happen:

  1. Punishment AND fines for animal cruelty need to be tougher all the way around.  It needs to mean more than an inconvenience
  2. Pennsylvania as in the Commonwealth needs to recognize companion animals like dogs as more than property- people discussed that a few years ago when trying for stiffer puppy mill laws but I do not recall anything than some stuff getting watered down. I bet Tom Hickey from the state is watching this blog, and I would like him to connect with me.
  3. Also farm statutes must be updated so there is less “fuzzy” area. My thought is two-fold: protect the dog owners better, but still give farmers recourse. I have not fleshed that thought out anymore than that but in PA we need to remember the importance of farms as they do drive enough of state economy still.
  4. I believe that municipalities like West Vincent that used to be extremely rural need to be made to look at their zoning more closely.  After all, when you get down to it development doesn’t happen without them does it? So it is incumbent upon them to work harder for better relationships between old and new.  Also what defines a farmer versus a hobbyist with tax breaks?
  5. Gun and gaming laws. I do not want this tragedy to be overshadowed and used by a national political debate. My frame of reference is simple: school people on existing laws because one of the things so irresponsible about what happened is the fact a shotgun was discharged like that in what I am told is R2 residential as opposed to land area zoned agricultural and am I wrong in that?

argus and fionaState Senator Andy Dinniman who represents a lot of us and is a huge animal advocate is working on some law having to do with dog owners being able to sue for damages.  He says and I quote ” I am drafting a law that would allow pet owners to civilly sue those who harm or kill their pets.”  I do not know the specifics other than that but would ask that if some of his staff is watching this blog if they could  post specifics as they occur.

I urge you to contact your lawmakers on a state and federal level and ask for change that will protect our dogs better. They are a part of our families not like an ear of corn.

In Chester County to connect with Andy Dinniman:

One North Church Street
West Chester, PA 19380
Phone: 610.692.2112
Fax: 610.436.1721
Monday-Friday: 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m

Andy@pasenate.com

In Chester County to bump it up to a Federal level to Congress:

Chester County
Jim Gerlach
 111 East Uwchlan Avenue
 Exton, PA 19341
610.594.1415 tel
610.594.1419 fax

Pat Meehan
 940 West Sproul Road
Springfield, PA 19064
Phone: (610) 690-7323
Fax: (610) 690-7329

Together if we focus together and ask for Justice for Argus & Fiona, maybe we can propel that forward to someday mean Argus & Fiona’s Laws.

I will also comment briefly that in spite of media spin the Facebook page Justice for Argus & Fiona , it was set up with a peaceable goal of true justice.  As in through the legal system, including changing laws to better protect dogs.

After all, one of the people who helped set up the Facebook page was Mary Bock, who is a truly lovely and gentle woman who has shown such grace and peace in the face of unbelievable family tragedy.   Make no misunderstanding with regard to that page as it is not for deviant purposes and  implication is resented. People are banned and comments are removed. Posting and commenting is a privilege, not a right.

However, the unfortunate reality is that in this world two of the most heated topics in the world are issues having to do with children and pets, and this issue involves BOTH.

Below are some media snippets from yesterday afternoon as the region learned the dogs would start to have justice, and did not die in vain.  I will comment that I am struggling with the statement Mr. Pilotti is purported to have released about remorse and prayers for the family.  Part of me hopes it is true, yet part of me wonders why he simply did not do that before the media and public got news of what happened?  Correct me if I am wrong, but didn’t he have almost a week in between the actual date of tragedy and media whirlwind to pray and show remorse?

In any event, those of us supporting the Bock family do not support violence.  Nor do we support nut jobs that stand outside anyone’s home screaming anything. No matter WHAT has transpired, we as a society cannot swirl downwards into utter lawlessness.  More bad acts will not solve any issue.

So I ask all of you to use your energy to speak out for dogs.  Get laws changed.  And oh yes, no matter what West Vincent says if you live there you have a right to be heard at the Supervisors meeting.  They may decline comment, but you have the right to public privilege of the floor or public comment.  They do not have to respond, but as elected and appointed officials part of their job is to listen. Just be polite.

I am told that this coming Monday is a normal Supervisors meeting. Monday at 7:30 PM at their Township building 729 St. Matthews Road, Chester Springs, PA 19425

Media has reported that West Vincent has not really been chatting with anyone.  I guess “unavailable” and “declining comment” would describe it best? In any event, they provide their township contact information on their website as:

729 St. Matthews Road Chester Springs, PA 19425

Phone: (610) 458-1601 Fax: (610) 458-1603

E-Mail  office@westvincenttwp.org




As always, thanks for stopping by. And to that eternally curious woman who keeps asking a mutual friend about this blog to the point of obsession? Lady, if you have to ask you don’t need to know. Grow up and quit looking for chickenman conspiracies behind every bush and hillock in West Vincent.  (No I do not know who chickenman is, nor do I care.  Even chickens have First Amendment Rights…)

Face it, you live in warped Mayberry and the sooner you own that the more at ease your  mind will be. I know it is hard for some to fathom that I post recipes and discuss politics and local issues, but so be it.  Far more interesting than standing in someone’s kitchen telling birthing stories and discussing which mustard goes best with a honey baked ham, yes?

TTFN