Roscoe’s trial under way
BRECKENRIDGE – A 12-person jury will decide whether Silverthorne resident Nathan Suchecki abused and tortured his dog Roscoe, or if the dog’s 28 fractures were a result of an underlying medical condition.Suchecki’s three-day trial began Wednesday morning in Summit District Court. Judge Ed Casias is presiding over the case.Suchecki was arrested on April 27, 2004, for allegedly abusing his boxer Roscoe, who was 5-months-old at the time.Roscoe had more than two dozen fractures throughout his body when he was seized by Summit County Animal Control in early April, Deputy District Attorney Arly Miner said in her opening statements.Miner added that Suchecki only took Roscoe to the veterinarian twice during the three months he owned the puppy and that Roscoe was underweight.”(Suchecki) didn’t provide proper care or proper nutrition to Roscoe,” Miner said. “What he did provide was the beatings.”The defense, represented by Breckenridge lawyer Todd Barson, contended that Suchecki is a “hard-working, church-going” 23-year-old who spent thousands of dollars in veterinary care for Roscoe.Barson described Roscoe as a happy, playful, rambunctious puppy that could be very hyperactive. Suchecki admits to occasionally smacking Roscoe on the behind or yelling at the dog, but he was not an abuser, Barson added.Instead, Roscoe had a medical disorder that affected his bones, he said.”Something was going on with the dog that’s hard to explain,” Barson argued. “This is not a case where Nathan was at home torturing his dog.”One of the first witnesses was John Mahan, a former neighbor of Suchecki’s who testified to calling animal control “numerous times” to complain about Suchecki’s demeanor toward Roscoe.”I remember hearing one day a really loud yelp, the cry of a dog being hurt, like it was being hit by a car,” Mahan testified.He said he repeatedly heard Suchecki yelling at his dog and confronted him about it on at least one occasion, telling him he couldn’t treat a dog that way.Suchecki’s response was that Roscoe was biting him and he didn’t know what else to do, Mahan testified.Mahan also said Roscoe was “very cautious” of a hand coming toward his face.During cross-examination, Mahan said that he never witnessed Suchecki hit the dog and was rarely inside Suchecki’s apartment to see the conditions in which Roscoe lived.The prosecution also called Dr. Vincent Tharp, a local veterinarian who cared for Roscoe while Suchecki owned him.Tharp testified to performing surgery on Roscoe in early January for a broken leg, which occurred after the dog jumped out of Suchecki’s parked jeep. He said he never saw any lacerations or bruises on Roscoe during his care for the dog, which ended on March 5, 2004. Tharp said Roscoe was skinny, but that his weight wasn’t abnormal for boxer puppies, which tend to be thin.”(Suchecki) didn’t seem to be someone who didn’t care,” Tharp said.But, he said his opinion changed after hearing Roscoe later sustained 28 fractures.”That’s an exorbitant amount of fractures,” he said, adding that he has only seen that number of bone breaks when a dog has been hit by a car.The defense, prosecutors and the judge narrowed the pool of about 50 prospective jurors down to eight men and four women Wednesday morning.Several of the prospective jurors questioned their ability to remain objective if selected to be on the jury because of their strong feelings against animal abuse.Also, a professional pet psychic was excused from duty after explaining that she talks to pets for a living and would not be able to “turn off” her special ability in order to ignore information she hears beyond the evidence.The jury will be responsible for deciding whether the prosecution, represented by Miner and deputy district attorney Elizabeth Oldham, proved Suchecki’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.If convicted, Suchecki faces one year to 18 months in jail and fines of up to $100,000.On Tuesday, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, faxed a letter to Oldham pleading with her to ask the judge for a psychological evaluation if there is a conviction in the case.Testimony was scheduled to continue today, with a verdict expected on Friday.Nicole Formosa can be reached at (970) 668-3998 ext. 229 or at email@example.com
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