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Essex officer acquitted in animal cruelty trial

Posted on Nov 17, 2009 - 8:33 PM
Essex officer acquitted in animal cruelty trial
By Matt Ryan, Free Press Staff Writer
Tuesday, November 17, 2009

HYDE PARK After deliberating for about six hours Tuesday, a jury found an Essex police officer not guilty of cruelty to animals for fatally shooting his neighbors dog in April.


Michael Wootton, 35, of Waterville pleaded not guilty to the charge, though he admitted shooting Hooch, an 80 pound pit bull mix, to protect his 20 pound pug, Yoda. The two dogs got into a fight April 30 after Yoda, unleashed, wandered onto Hoochs owners property.


Woottons family and supporters cheered when the verdict was announced at about 8:30 p.m. in Vermont District Court in Hyde Park. Wootton smiled and hugged his relatives.


The owners of the slain dog groaned in disappointment.


"I didnt see it coming", said Mindy Maskell, the daughter of Hoochs owners.


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