By Andra Bryan Stefanoni
GIRARD, Kan. — McCune Mayor Don Call, who has maintained that he was justified in shooting a resident’s two dogs, was bound over for trial after a preliminary hearing Monday in Crawford County District Court.
Call is charged with two felony counts of cruelty to animals and one misdemeanor count of illegal discharge of a firearm in connection with the deaths of the dogs in February at a home in McCune.
Call entered pleas of innocent as District Judge Don Nolan questioned him on each of the three counts.
Crawford County Attorney Michael Gayoso said felony charges were filed because he believes the dogs were killed maliciously.
McCune’s dog ordinance, adopted in 2006, states that dogs running at large are subject to impoundment, and that no dogs may be “disposed of until after a minimum of three business days of custody.”
According to reports filed in February with the Crawford County Sheriff’s Department and restated by Nolan during the hearing, witnesses said Call fired three times from his vehicle, driving around the block between each time. Evidence submitted during the hearing included the 9 mm rifle allegedly used by Call.
“That was an act that took some degree of time,” Nolan said before ruling that there was sufficient evidence that Call be bound over for trial on all three counts.
“If you acted with maliciousness, that is to be determined by trial,” Nolan told Call.
Leaving the courthouse, Call was surrounded by about 10 supporters who attended the hearing. Public opinion, in the form of letters to the editor and to Gayoso’s office, has been both for and against the charges filed against Call.
Call said in February that he killed the dogs because of a report that the animals were chasing a neighbor’s children. He turned himself in to law enforcement after a warrant for his arrest was issued.
He did not seek re-election as mayor in April, but 98 write-in votes kept him in office. The only candidate on the ballot, Debbie Rennie, received 36 votes.
After the hearing, Call declined to comment, deferring to his attorney, Rick Smith, who said the outcome of the hearing “was not unexpected.”
“We have the right to present our case at trial, and that’s what we’ll do,” Smith said.
If Call is found guilty on the felony counts, he could face a minimum penalty of 30 days to no more than a year in jail, and a fine of between $500 and $5,000, according to Gayoso.
“During that 30 days, he also must have a psychiatric evaluation to determine the condition of his probation,” Gayoso said, adding that probation would include the completion by Call of an anger-management class.
If Call is found guilty on the misdemeanor count, he could face 30 days of jail time and a fine of $500, Gayoso said.
The trial is scheduled for Dec. 9-11, with a pretrial and motions hearing slated for Nov. 23.
By Andra Bryan Stefanoni
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