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Ex-fire official sentenced for dog beating

April 2, 2010 12:48:11 AM PDT
A retired Los Angeles County assistant fire chief was sentenced to 90 days weekend jail time and three years probation for using a rock to severely beat a puppy that later had to be euthanized.Glynn Johnson, 55, was also ordered to perform 400 hours of community service working with dogs, take anger management courses and pay the veterinary bills.

He could have received a maximum of four years in state prison for his conviction on felony animal cruelty, with a sentence- enhancing allegation of using a deadly weapon in the commission of a felony.

Superior Court Judge J. Thompson Hanks said he considered Johnson's lack of criminal record and service as a firefighter in the lighter sentence.

Johnson addressed the judge and his former neighbors, Jeff and Shelley Toole, in the courtroom. He apologized to the Tooles, telling them that he is an animal lover and if he could go back in time, he would do things much differently.

Prosecutors say Johnson was feuding with his next-door neighbors when he used a 12-pound rock to beat their 6-month-old German shepherd-mix named Karley on Nov. 3, 2008. The dog's injuries, which included multiple skull fractures, a broken jaw and smashed teeth, were so extensive that she had to be put to sleep.

The defense argued Johnson was defending himself against an out-of-control canine.

Johnson claimed the dog had gotten loose from the Tooles' property in the 1700 block of Armintrout Drive in Woodcrest, and he was walking it home when it clamped onto his hand and wouldn't let go.

He testified that Karley clamped down on his right thumb, "filleting" it so the top and bottom portions separated. He said he picked up a rock and, out of self defense, struck the dog until she went limp.

However, a witness said Johnson's attack on the puppy was unprovoked. The witness said he tried to intervene, but Johnson ignored him, slamming a rock into the dog's head 10 to 15 times.

The dog's owners said in court that Johnson had ruined their lives and should get the maximum sentence of more than four years in prison.

"If (Karley) did this to you, her punishment would be death," Jeff Toole said. "And if I were a judge that would be the punishment for you too, but I'm not a judge. You're a danger society and you need to be locked up before you hurt someone else."

Outside the courthouse after the sentencing, the Tooles were furious. The family believes his intent all along was to kill the dog.

"We did not receive the justice, absolutely not," said Jeff Toole. "He killed Karley, brutally beat her. The man's insane."

"He thinks he can just do whatever he wants and get away. And obviously it happened again," said Brandon Toole.

Johnson's friend Tom Roach said it's obvious the dog's owners had been at odds with Johnson for years. When the dispute between neighbors became a case of felony animal cruelty, it gained national attention. Johnson's friends say the Toole family is using what happened to Karley as a way to get back at Johnson for years of frustration.

"He's a good man, and I think this is wrong. It's absolutely wrong," said Roach. "And for these people to stand out here and get this kind of attention for what they've done, I think is sad and sick to tell you the truth."

The D.A. said it's unlikely Johnson will spend any time behind bars; he'll probably end up in the sheriff's work release program.

Even though the judge ordered Johnson to stay away from the Toole family, it doesn't appear the dispute will be over anytime soon. Johnson said he's appealing his sentence.

The Toole family told Eyewitness News they may be considering a civil lawsuit to seek restitution for up to $250,000. They're also pushing for legislation that would require people convicted of felony animal cruelty to register with the state. City News Service contributed to this report.