judgement day

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Gabriel Pilotti has faced his punishment on his animal cruelty conviction.

Judge Nagle a short while ago gave Pilotti 2 years probation, 90 days on a monitor, restitution $800 per dog, $1000 fine, no guns , 200 hrs community service.

I have thought about this long and hard, and a component of true justice is mercy. Did he show mercy to those dogs?

The answer of course is a resounding NO.

But given his age, although he may have deserved some jail time, I have to leave this to the experts, namely Judge Nagle and the Chester County District Attorney’s Office.

The greater punishment in my eyes is he has been branded by the courts and a jury of his peers as a dog murderer. He loses his guns too.

He is in a permanent jail of sorts the rest of his days because he has to live in a community that does not respect what he did.

So he can go to church and his born-again Christian glory all he wants, he is in the eyes of the public something else entirely.

His supporters have already begun to leave comments up here, and they’re calling this a victory. I am not sure exactly what it is they have won, and they should in all honesty consider it in reality more of phyrric victory.

Justice has been served, and Argus and Fiona did not die in vain.

That is all I have to say for now.

Thanks

guilty

argus-and-fiona

Last September 11th I was up in a hot air balloon shaped like a flag floating over Chester County.  This September 11th I spent all day in a court house.

Almost two hours ago the jury came back. Sorry for not posting sooner, but I wanted to sit and think a while.  It has been a long time since February.

It was a long afternoon as we waited in the District Attorney’s Offices – which were a real kick to see! I have to say the Chester County District Attorney’s Office personnel were pretty darn amazing.  They did not have to go out of their way to make us comfortable and they did.  They allowed us to wait in a small conference room instead of just hanging in the hall all afternoon.  On a brutally hot day with my friend Amy in a full boot cast, this was particularly nice. I met some really amazing people and even one of the working dogs handled by the Chester County Sheriff’s Department.

Anyway…..the verdict?

Guilty.  Gabriel Pilotti wanted to be judged by a jury of his peers, and he was.  And he was found guilty.  Truthfully I think his defense team looked a bit surprised.

Case CP15 -CR-00010992013

Count 1  Cruelty to Animals (Argus) – Guilty

Count 2 Cruelty to Animals (Fiona) – Guilty

Sentencing is October 28th at 9 a.m. in front of Judge Ronald C. Nagle.

Assistant District Attorney Kevin Pierce really brought his A game to the closing.  I could go into the back and forth nitty-gritty of the closing, but why? The verdict is what it is. I also understand that Mr. Pilotti will probably lose his weapon now? That is what I was told on my way out this evening.

Today justice was done for Argus and Fiona.  To me this was also a big win in general for Pennsylvania’s dogs. A win for the dogs is much overdue.

I also want to thank Bud Haly who is on the board of the Chester County SPCA for stepping up and coming to court today.  That gives me hope for that organization.  Some people who are affiliated with the CCSPCA were mighty pissy that I even articulated someone should be there. Guess what? I wasn’t wrong and he said simply that he couldn’t NOT be there. So I am glad one board member did the right thing.

I also want to thank West Vincent Chief of Police Michael Swininger and Officer Austin Russell. They were there with us, and as critical as I can be about West Vincent Township, these two gentlemen are stand up guys. And many thanks to the media who devoted time for this, especially print media. We all know they are stretched thin.

We were all very emotional when the verdict was read.  Bill Bock just stood there for a moment not moving with tears in his eyes.  That right there made all the crap we took for believing in Justice for Argus and Fiona worth it.  This family can have peace and closure.

Run free over the Rainbow Bridge Argus and Fiona. You have your justice, sweet pups.

Chester County man guilty in death of dogs
 Mari A. Schaefer, Inquirer Staff Writer Last updated: Wednesday, September 11, 2013, 5:46 PM      

Daily Local Breaking News: Jury finds man who shot dogs guilty

And some have asked if Pilotti can appeal. Well he can but whether or not he would get much traction? I simply don’t know.  My guess would be not really.

 

 

gone but not forgotten

On February 19th, 2013 this blog broke the story of intolerable cruelty in West Vincent Township.  It was about the unwarranted shooting of two puppies named Argus & Fiona by a man named Gabe Pilotti in West Vincent Township. Since that time there has been much back and forth and legal hop scotch as people wait for a trial date so justice may be done the right way through our legal system.

This morning was supposed to have been the court date at the Chester County Courthouse in downtown West Chester, PA.  These were the charges levied back in February by the Chester County District Attorney’s Office:

CHARGES

1 M1 18 § 5511 §§A2.1IA Cruelty To Animals 02/12/2013 T 295420-6

2 M1 18 § 5511 §§A2.1IA Cruelty To Animals 02/12/2013 T 295420-6

3 M2 18 § 2705 Recklessly Endangering Another Person 02/12/2013 T 295420-6

argus and fiona

But according to my sources, no court date took place earlier this morning.  (I am sick or I would have been at the courthouse, truthfully.)

The Bock family has suffered through the loss of their dogs and the ups and downs of the justice system, and I feel really badly for them and the memory of Argus & Fiona.  No one has asked for the sun, moon, or stars.  No one has condoned or asked for vigilante justice.  All anyone has asked for is that the justice system see this through and for lawmakers to consider strengthening dog laws in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania so families and pets in this state not only have legal recourse, but laws that aren’t antiquated and might actually protect innocent pet owners and their domestic animals.

We’re still waiting.  And we want everyone to know we have not forgotten Argus & Fiona.  And neither should you.

I know that West Vincent Township would love everyone to forget about Argus  & Fiona because it happened in that warped Mayberry.  And like everything else that happens in West Vincent, it seems to be a bit of a hot mess still doesn’t it?  After all, why is it months ago when the charges were announced, why is it that West Vincent Township PD couldn’t confiscate one shotgun pending the outcome of the legal proceedings?

Mary Bock commented the other day on the Justice for Argus & Fiona Facebook page:

To all the wonderful people who have been supporting us and this fight for justice for Argus and Fiona, I wanted to give you a little update as to where we stand.  Because the defense has control over  the dates for court appearances, our initial main concern was having the gun removed from Pilotti’s possession….but because he has an “emotional attachment” to the gun it wasn’t that easy…..The DA suggested…that the gun be placed in a lock box at his neighbor’s house. The background checks were done on the neighbor and the gun was handed over….Sometimes it’s very hard to get any information…Thank you everyone for the continued support and all of your kind words

Again, I am not having a gun debate here (nor am I deliberately slamming or questioning the Chester County District Attorney’s office ) but I still fail to understand that since there has been a reckless endangerment charge pending why West Vincent didn’t pick up that gun and simply lock it up for safekeeping when those charges landed months ago? I have been told that is common practice when there are legal proceedings pending so I have always found this back and forth on what should be fairly cut and dry confusing.  I also do not get how you could have an emotional attachment to a shotgun, do you? I sure hope that West Vincent has periodically checked to see that this gun is in fact locked up  in this neighbor’s gun safe don’t you?

I do know that people in West Vincent are holding their breath still on this and let me be abundantly clear, I embrace responsible dog ownership just like I embrace responsible gun ownership.  I also respect the farmers’ rights to defend their livestock in crisis situation, but this was never a crisis situation because these puppies never attacked anything did they? I am also still at sixes and sevens as to whether or not Gabe Pilotti is actually a farmer or truly a hobbyist?  There is a difference.

I will also state again for the record that despising what Mr. Pilotti did in February is honest human emotion.  However I do not condone the behavior of people who stood in the middle of roads shouting with bullhorns or trespassed on people’s property or threatening him.  That is all wrong.

I post today to reaffirm that  people have not forgotten these poor dogs and what fate befell them and to remind lawmakers that they can’t just talk a good game when it comes to protecting our domestic pets like dogs.  They actually have to get off their duffs and DO something.  These pets aren’t property like an azalea bush or an ear of corn, they are part of our families. And since Argus & Fiona were shot to death we have heard of other cases of intolerable cruelty like this in Pennsylvania and other states.

Please contact your lawmakers again about Justice for Argus & Fiona and for changes to the dog laws and animal cruelty laws so animals are properly protected. I would also go as far as to suggest not only contacting your state elected officials (as in State Representatives and State Senators) but your U.S. Congressman as well for stronger Federal laws.  For most of us in Chester County, we are either served by Pat Meehan or Jim Gerlach.

And I really hope some day that Mr. Pilotti can express remorse to the Bocks eye to eye, don’t you? After all how will that man ever have peace in his own world without doing that?

I will close this post with a Buddhist prayer I find oddly apropos here today (yes I know not the norm you expect from a Catholic but never the less):

By the power and truth of this practice:
May all beings have happiness and the cause of happiness
May all beings be free from sorrow and the causes of sorrow
May all never be separated from the sacred happiness which is sorrow less
And may all live in equanimity without too much attachment and too much aversion
And live believing in the equality of all that lives.

-The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying

 

justice for argus & fiona: gabe pilotti goes to court

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Outside District Court in Pottstown 3.27.13. Photo credit AFD

All the confusion over whether or not Gabe Pilotti would go to court in Pottstown and when is over.  He did.  And NBC10 Philadelphia, The Daily Local, The Pottstown Mercury, and others were there. Many thanks to all of them for caring enough to cover. (Links to media coverage will be posted when available).  Thanks to Tom Hickey from Dog PAC for being there too.

NBC10 Philadelphia: Owner of Murdered Dogs Still Waiting for Apology From Alleged Killer

There were also lots and lots of police. Apparently they were there due to death threats received by Pilotti. As an aside,  no matter what he has done, that kind of eye for an eye vigilante justice has no place in civilized society.  That behavior is not condoned, and the Bocks are quite clear in their desire for the courts to be able to do their job and for laws being able to be created and changed to protect PA dogs. Vigilantism like that makes him the victim, when he is the one who shot defenseless puppies so why do that stuff?

Daily Local: Hearing waived in West Vincent dog killings

SOUTH COVENTRY — A 72-year-old man who shot and killed a neighbor’s two family dogs in February appeared in district court Wednesday as about 15 police officers stood guard outside.

Gabriel Pilotti, of the Chester Springs section of West Vincent Township, waived a preliminary hearing on charges of animal cruelty and recklessly endangering another person…Pilotti, who appeared in court with his attorney Thomas H. Ramsay of West Chester, did not speak as Magisterial District Judge James V. DeAngelo quickly moved through the procedures of waiving the preliminary hearing….About 15 law enforcement officers from various county and state agencies stood guard in and outside…

What no one seems to know is if Gabe Pilotti’s guns were confiscated pending outcome of case? Shouldn’t they be? (owning guns is a responsibility and did he behave responsibly?)  Also interesting to note that no one from district attorney’s office was present.  Don’t misunderstand me, they don’t have to be present at this stage but given the public outcry over this it seems they might have made an appearance.

So we all are on the same page, these are the charges at this point:

docket 1

Now this will head to county court at some point in West Chester. As per the docket (which is sort of updated) next up is a visit to Chester County Court in West Chester for a formal arraignment (if Pilotti and attorney don’t waive it ):

docket

Now I wonder if we can get the media to go to a hearing at Judge Cabry’s in Honeybrook next week on April 2nd for a little civil manner involving a horse rescue gal who isn’t always civil?  Will this hearing mean more problems for the owner of Off The Track Thoroughbred Rescue?

And as a wee post script, Mary Bock had this to say with regard to the “apology” that Pilotti’s attorney referred to on NBC10:

….As soon as I got home I asked the DA’s office if such a letter came to them, they said they have seen no such letter.

justice for argus & fiona: court date confusion

UPDATE  3.27.13 11:33 a.m:   *UPDATE* Tom Hickey from DogPAC just called.  He says that his sources have told him the hearing is STILL on for Pilotti (Argus & Fiona) 3 pm at 1130 Ridge Rd in Pottstown, PA.  He asks that if you are able to come show support, to please do so in a peacable manner.  No one expects this hearing to last more than five minutes – it will undoubtedly get waived to county court.  But apparently, he does have to appear. This is all we know and what we have been told.

UPDATE 3.27.13 10:08 a.m.:   Greetings – this morning greets everyone who want justice for Argus & Fiona with confusion.  Some sources say Pilotti has waived his hearing so there is nothing today, other sources say everything is moving dates again.  So the long and short of it is, we just don’t know.  We will update when we do.  Sorry to put folks in a holding pattern.  We appreciate your support.

argus-and-fiona

UPDATE 7:40 P.M. (and note this is a moving target so who knows if it will move again or not):

Tom Hickey from DogPAC was kind enough to connect and tell us the hearing date had indeed changed….to TOMORROW. YES ANOTHER CHANGE TOMORROW (Wednesday, March 27th) at 3 p.m . If you can be there to show your support, THANK YOU. You know , they can keep changing it and we will still come, 1130 Ridge Road Pottstown, PA 19465  Justice, Love and Change ~ Argus and Fiona ♥ spread the word!  And VERY important – out of respect to the dogs and the Bock family, if you go tomorrow, PLEASE just bear witness quietly and show support.  No drama or the dogs will lose out. It is my belief this district justice doesn’t want this in his court, but I could be wrong.

EARLIER:

I feel a bit like a puppy chasing it’s tail this morning.  It seems that Justice for Argus & Fiona is not going to be so simple after all. We are hearing that the court date for Commonwealth v. Pilotti has been moved….again….we are hearing 3/28/2013 at 8:30 a.m. (We are waiting for media and other sources to confirm this 100% but that is what a law enforcement source has said.)

If you refer to the official court docket you will see that the date of the hearing in the court room of Magisterial District Judge James V. Deangelo has been moving about like a game of Chinese Checkers.  The original hearing was 3/28/13 at 9 am.  Then it was 4/4/2013 at 9 a.m. and then it was 4/4/2013 at 1 p.m. However on another docket most people never click on called the Public Court Summary is says “Next Action Date: 03/28/2013”

So we now have ANOTHER change that the court will neither confirm or deny: that the trial is BACK to 3/28/2013 or this THURSDAY as in the day before Good Friday and Easter Weekend.

I have to ask why this court date and the times are  moving at such an extraordinary rate.  Is this a ploy on the part of the defense, a/k/a Gabe Pilotti’s lawyer?  Or is it because the District Justice Court in Pottstown  keeps moving the date to avoid a media spotlight and crowds of Justice for Argus & Fiona supporters? Do the officials elected or otherwise in West Vincent have anything to do with this?

I want to remain calm, cool and collected and avoid conspiracy theories, but I have to tell you when you have VERY reliable sources telling you the D.A.’s office in Chester County is telling THEM the date is the 28th of March again or this Thursday as in two days from now, yet when I call out to the court and speak to a lovely woman named Rebecca who asks me how I heard this because (and I quote) “It is not the 28th…nothing formally has been changed…but you can check the docket later.” well it is darn frustrating.

So it seems to me something more is afoot.  I can’t help but think someone is trying to sneak something past everyone AND the poor Bock family who have a right to their day in court for their beloved pets.

Here is the address and phone number of D’Angelo’s court:

Magisterial District Judge:James V. DeAngelo
District Court 15-3-01
1130 Ridge Road
Pottstown, PA 19465-8612

Phone:
610-469-1910
Fax:610-469-1913

Townships of Spring City,
North Coventry, South Coventry, East Coventry, Warwick, East Nantmeal, East Vincent, and West Vincent

The Chester County District Attorney’s office telephone number is (610) 344-6801.  Feel free to call D.A. Tom Hogan’s office and ask what the CORRECT date is and why the date to a simple hearing in a Magisterial District Court is jumping around quite so much.

Regional and local media, you have been so incredibly generous in your coverage of this issue.  We hope you can see all this Tom Foolery over the magically moving court date will encourage you to resume coverage.   After all, will justice be so thorough without the eyes of the region upon her?

Supporters of dog issues please watch the court dockets too.  Apparently it is going to take more than a village to get justice after all.

for the dogs

HeidiIt was February 19th when I broke the story here of the intolerable cruelty of humans. What happened to the Bock family and Argus and Fiona is still almost unspeakably horrible.  But thanks to the love and amazing kindness of friends and strangers, what had begun as horribly negative is taking turns towards positive, so I thought I would post again.

I had stopped posting about this because I had concerns about the extreme reactions I had heard about including the woman with a bull horn screaming in the middle of a street. Or all the people who drove out to West Vincent to stalk the streets and see “where it happened”.   Behavior like that is as unacceptable to me as shooting the dogs was and we’ll leave it at that.

The Bock family was blessed recently with a rescue Berner.  Mary told all of us and she wrote:

Look what found us and is helping us heal!  Her name is Heidi, she’s a rescue.  She came to us Friday, spent Saturday at the doggie spa and its been nothing but love ever since!  She’s almost 5 and is loving all the attention.  She’s been great helping the kids heal and we think she’ll be awesome with the future puppies.  The way we see it, she is the first dog Argus and Fiona saved.  Hopefully there will be many more in the future!

How beautiful is that?  The Bocks, as was reported in the media also met with our State Senator Andy Dinniman.  Andy is a huge dog advocate.  Here is what Andy is up to as per West Chester Patch:

Dog Shooting Should Be Curbed, State Sen. Says

Andy Dinniman wants to make it more difficult to legally shoot a dog, and easier for grieving pet owners to sue.

ByTom Sunnergren  Email the author  March 2, 2013

In the aftermath of the shooting of two Chester County dogs, state Senator Andy Dinniman will introduce a pair of bills punishing animal abuse, the senator announced on his website last week.

According to the release, Dinniman’s first bill changes the circumstances under which it is legal to shoot a dog. Under Dinniman’s bill, some Pennsylvania residents would be allowed to shoot a dog that entered their property if it was chasing another animal “with apparent intent to harm.” The current law allows residents to shoot dogs that are simply pursuing another animal. The bill would apply only to state counties with populations of over 210,000, of which Chester County is one.

The second bill would allow grieving pet owners to sue if their pet is killed on their property. The maximum penalty would be $12,000.

Dinniman said the bills were written in response to the Feb. 12 West Vincent incident in which a man allegedly shot his neighbor’s two dogs after they ran onto his property, but wouldn’t punish the defendant.

“My bill, even if passed, is not retroactive and will have no direct affect on the parties in West Vincent one way or the other,” the state Senator said. “But this awful shooting illustrates what can happen and the need for our justice system to better recognize the unique role pets fill in our families.”

As many of us learned, what happened to Argus and Fiona has happened to other dogs.  As a matter of fact we had heard on the Justice For Argus & Fiona page on Facebook of another case from up around Lebanon, PA.  I think the Bocks inspired them to come forward to heal:

for the dogs

And here is Mr. Ranck’s story in the York Daily Record:

Dog owner whose pets were shot wants law to require notification

Lance Ranck of Springfield Township said his dogs were shot by a nearby farmer when they got loose Dec. 26. Ranck believes state law should require anyone who shoots an animal to report it to police.

By REBECCA LeFEVER Daily Record/Sunday News

 York, PA –dog storyLance Ranck’s two dogs — Zoe, a 1-year-old herding dog, and Izzy, an 8-month old black lab — were shot and killed Dec. 26 after they broke through an electric fence. The dogs ran to a nearby farm and were shot when the landowner saw them advancing toward his livestock, said Melissa Smith with the York County SPCA.

Ranck of Springfield Township said he understands that if Zoe or Izzy had attacked and hurt the sheep, he would have been liable for the damages. But what he doesn’t understand is why the state doesn’t require someone who shoots an animal to notify police.

Instead, he said, his dogs were buried somewhere on the farm.

Ranck said he and his wife noticed a problem with their electric fence and they called a technician to come look at it. Just after they thought dog collars were fixed, he said, the dogs managed to get beyond the fence and run about a half mile from their home in the 8300 block of Fishel Creek Road to a neighboring farm.

“If not for the snow that had fallen that night, we would’ve never known where they went,” Ranck said.

He and his wife followed the dogs’ tracks to the farm.

The farmer, who has not been charged, according to Smith, could not be reached for comment….

Ranck said the loss of Zoe and Izzy, which he and his wife owned since they were puppies, has been tough to handle.

“We know our dogs shouldn’t have been off the property,” he said. “But if someone has the right to shoot them they should be accountable to report it.”

Ranck said it’s not about “wanting something” from the farmer, but seeing if the law can be changed to address future incidents. He’s reached out to state Rep. Ron Miller, R-Jacobus, and they plan to meet to discuss his concerns.

“If we hadn’t been able to follow their tracks we might still think they were just lost,” Ranck said. “A flier on the street wouldn’t help us if they’re dead.”

What haunts me here is Mr. Ranck’s words “State Police refused to go out and our county SPCA finally went out after we notified them that we are going public…2 months later”. (However, should I be surprised about that given the takes I hear from folks who talk about horse rescue and that group LAPS?)

It just goes to show everyone how badly laws need to change.  No one wants to take away all rights of farmers, but there needs to be better protection for the dogs.  And the media needs to be the public’s partner in this.  It’s all well and good that Fox29 posted an update about the Bocks beginning again and being blessed with a rescue dog, but we need media outlets like them to not forget that people want laws to change.  The playing field is past due for a leveling.

Please write your state representatives and state senators if you live in Pennsylvania.  Do it for the dogs.

People have been asking when Gabriel Pilotti is going to court.  It seems to be a bit of a moving target.  First it was 3/28 then it was moved to 4/4 at 9 am, yet when I pulled the court docket just now, it gives the time as 4/4 at 1 pm.  This means, people are going to have to watch the dockets closely.

See:

court date

I have uploaded a PDF of the docket as it appears this morning: Commonwealth of PA v. Gabriel Pilotti