Case News: (July 3rd) The three accused are expected to plead guilty at their arraignment July 26th and enlist in the Regimented Inmate Discipline Program. Read the detailed article here.


May 10, 2001

Attention: Editors
eridenour@muskogeephoenix.com
jbean@muskogeephoenix.com
avega@muskogeephoenix.com
Muskogee Phoenix Newspaper
214 Wall St
Muskogee, OK 74401

Dear Editors:

Through articles in your paper, I have been following the case of the three young adults who went on a shooting spree killing a number of family pets last month.

In your editorial of May 3rd you state:

"If they are found guilty or plead guilty, these three young men should be punished proportionate to the crime...Yet we do not believe jail time is appropriate in this case. Nor, of course, is a slap on the wrist. We recommend a deferred sentence of three years that would result in jail time for subsequent wrongdoing."

I appreciate that you acknowledge the seriousness of these crimes including, as I understand it, discharging a firearm from a vehicle--a felony--and recognize that such violent behavior can endanger human, not just non-human animal lives. However, to say that a deferred sentence is a reasonable and just option is reckless. Deferred sentence and community service are a slap on the wrist for crimes of this magnitude.

Your suggestion that they receive jail time only if/when another offense is committed is irresponsible. Suppose that their next offense is to harm or even kill a human. The outcry of the community that known violent offenders had not been appropriately disciplined or rehabilitated to deter future acts of violence would be deafening. I am not suggesting the maximum sentence, but neither do I think that none whatsoever is serving justice or the public safety.

I also noticed that your editorial did not recommend psychological evaluations and treatment despite your acknowledgement that known serial killers such as Jeffery Dahmer have started out by torturing and killing animals. Certainly, investigation into their motivations and recommended actions to help these potentially disturbed men is warranted.

Finally, I observe that these men--like other older teens accused of violent crimes--are called "juveniles" and "youths" when it suits the purpose of minimizing culpability and sentencing. At ages 17 and 18, assuming no mental disabilities limiting them, these men are old enough to understand that their actions were wrong and dangerous and as such should carry heavy penalties.

Thank you,
Leigh-Anne Dennison

Side Note: I'm sure you are aware that mass murderers, derived from massacre, are individuals who kill more than three people in a short period of time (such as within 24 hours) while a serial murderer kills more than three over time.





MUSKOGEE PHOENIX NEWSPAPER EDITORIAL:
Killing beloved family pets is a serious crime. It cannot be taken lightly, nor can it be allowed to go unpunished.

Three area teen-agers have been charged with cruelty to animals and Shooting from a vehicle for allegedly killing 10 to 15 dogs.

Jason Manning, 18, and Lloyd McCarter, 17, both of Warner, and Dustin Lee Gorman, 17, of Keefeton drove through the Muskogee County countryside April 20 allegedly shooting those animals.

It is a wonder no people were hit by stray bullets, given that the dogs killed were in yards and on porches.

Even though no people were physically wounded in the spree, too many were hurt emotionally by the senseless slaughter of beloved pets.

If they are found guilty or plead guilty, these three young men should be punished proportionate to the crime. The criminal justice system clearly needs to get their attention.

Yet we do not believe jail time is appropriate in this case. Nor, of course, is a slap on the wrist.

We recommend a deferred sentence of three years that would result in jail time for subsequent wrongdoing.

That should be accompanied by a sentence of community service that is both lengthy and tough.

In addition, apologies to the owners of the slain dogs should be required.

All of the owners of the dogs that were killed should file criminal complaints. Failure to do so could weaken the district attorney's ability to prosecute this case as vigorously as it deserves.

We note, too, that some juveniles who harm animals grow up to become adults who harm people.

Milwaukee mass murderer Jeffrey Dahmer comes to mind as a classic case of this.

Sufficiently punishing young animal abusers sometimes helps prevent that from happening.

ORIGINAL ARTICLE:
(OK - US) Laughing Teens go on shooting spree, maiming/killing 10-15 dogs

Muskogee, OK
By Angie Vega, Elizabeth Ridenour,
Muskogee Phoenix Staff Writers

May 1, 2001

Carla Smith says it may be a while before her family gets another pet.

Her 8-month-old dog Lucy was shot and killed by three teen-agers on April 20.

Three teens were charged Monday in Muskogee County District Court with cruelty to animals and shooting from a vehicle.

Smith said Lucy, a small black and white Rat Terrier, was an indoor dog. The day she was shot, Smith said she let Lucy out to use the restroom and then walked to her mother's house, some 50 feet away from her own home.

"I came back and she was shot," Smith said.

As she was on her way back from her mother's house, Smith said the three teens, Jason Manning, 18 and Lloyd McCarter, 17, both of Warner, and Dustin Lee Gorman, 17, of Keefeton, were allegedly driving back by her house.

"They were laughing and said 'it's still laying there,'" she said.

The three boys allegedly left school in Warner the afternoon of April 20 and headed toward Muskogee. As they were passing through Keefeton, one dog was shot and killed. They came into Muskogee and headed back. They stopped in Keefeton on their way back and killed another dog, Muskogee County Chief Deputy Darrin Smith said.

After driving around dirt roads, they ended up around Brushy Mountain and Elm Grove Road where they continued.

The killing spree left as many as 10 to 15 dogs shot or dead.

Lucy was shot through the chest, between her front legs. She died quickly.

The family buried their pet beneath a shade tree in their yard. They plan to get a grave marker for Lucy, but for the moment have placed flowers on the dog's grave.

The absence of Lucy still causes Smith to cry.

"It's hard. I was really close to her," she said. "I would sleep with her every night."

Every morning Smith and Lucy laid on the couch together.

"She was part of our family. When we ate supper, she ate supper too. Now she's not going to bed with me."

Gary Price's border collie, Bear, was shot in the leg and lived. The dog had been following his grandchildren with their dog who was shot and died.

The bullet that hit Bear did not hit a bone, but the dog bled extensively.

"It did upset me that someone would shoot them in front of the kids," Price said.

Kim Allison, Price's daughter, said Summer, a golden Labrador mix, died after it tried to run for home after being shot. Her 12-year-old son found the dog with a bullet hole in it, bleeding.

"She ran quite a ways before she fell over," Allison said.

Allison's children did not take the death of Summer very well.

"They cried about it all day long," she said. "It was just really traumatic."

Summer was a good dog who had come from a fenced yard in the city to run and play in the country.

"Boy, was she happy. She would jump in the creek every day. She was a good dog. She didn't jump on people. She didn't chase cars. She didn't chase cows. She was a well-mannered, likable dog," Allison said.

Many say they're concerned not only that people would shoot animals willy-nilly, but also that they would endanger children or residents.

Price said he plans to file a report with the Muskogee County sheriff.

"I sure will. My grandchildren could have been injured as well," he said. "I feel kind of uneasy about people that that's their fun."

Allison said her children saw the car drive by where the shots came from. She also was concerned about the type of people who would drive down the road shooting dogs when children ride their bicycles up and down those country roads and could have been injured.

"I was worried to think there are people like that out there," she said.

Dorothy Farmer, president of Promoting Animal Welfare Society, attended Monday's court proceedings. She said she will follow the case from start to finish.

"I wanted to make sure they were going to do something more than slap them on the wrist and tell them don't do that anymore," Farmer said.

Farmer said it's frustrating that something like this could happen when pet owners are abiding by the rules of good care and responsible pet ownership by keeping their animals fenced in front yards.

"It makes you or your animal not safe," she said. "I hope they're punished for what they did."

Second article on this:
Three teen-agers were charged Monday for a shooting spree that left 10 - 15 dogs dead.

Jason Manning, 18 and Lloyd McCarter, 17, both of Warner; and Dustin Lee Gorman, 17, of Keefeton, were charged with cruelty to animals and shooting from a vehicle.

According to Muskogee County Chief Deputy Darrin Smith, the three confessed to shooting at least 10 to 15 dogs on April 20. Only one count of cruelty to animals has been filed by a victim.

Manning is charged as an adult for his part in the alleged crime because he is 18 years old. McCarter and Gorman are charged under the Youthful Offender Act because they are under 18.

"It is the purpose of the Youthful Offender Act to better ensure the public safety by holding youths accountable for the commission of serious crimes, while affording courts methods of rehabilitation for those youths the courts determine, at their discretion, may be amenable to such methods," according to the Oklahoma statute that defines youthful offender.

Under the Youthful Offender Act, Gorman's and McCarter's records relating to the case are open to the public. If convicted, they could be bridged into the adult penal system at the age of 19 if the court deems necessary, or they could be released at that time.

The charge of cruelty to animals is a felony punishable by a fine up to $500 and/or up to five years in prison. The charge of discharging a firearm from a vehicle also is a felony and is punishable by a term of imprisonment from two to 20 years, according to court documents.

The three boys allegedly left school in Warner the afternoon of April 20 and headed toward Muskogee. They passed through Keefeton, came into Muskogee and headed back through Keefeton, Smith said.

After driving around dirt roads, they ended up around Brushy Mountain and Elm Grove Road where they continued.

An area resident called the sheriff's department and gave a vehicle and tag description that led authorities to the three teen-agers, Smith said.

The three were arrested Thursday and released Friday on $7,500 bond each from the Muskogee County/City Detention Facility.

You can reach Assistant City Editor Angie Vega by (918) 684-2926 or avega@muskogeephoenix.com or Reporter Elizabeth Ridenour at (918) 684-2929 or eridenour@muskogeephoenix.com


This Just In

(July 3, 2001) Muskogee, OK - Three teenagers who confessed to shooting and killing 15 dogs waved their preliminary hearing Thursday, and instead agreed to be sent to a boot camp.

Jason Manning, 18; Lloyd McCarter, 17; and Dustin Lee Gorman, 18, are expected to plead guilty at a July 26 district court arraignment and enlist in the Regimented Inmate Discipline program, said Jeff Sheridan, assistant district attorney.

The three boys had no prior criminal backgrounds. They were charged with three counts each of cruelty to animals and use of a vehicle in discharging a weapon after they shot dogs from their vehicle April 20. They shot the dogs with a .22-caliber rifle while driving through neighborhoods after leaving school that day.

Carla Smith said Lucy, her rat terrier, was killed during the boys' shooting spree. But she said she hated to see them sent away.

"I feel really sad for the parents because I'm a mother," Smith said. "I hate that part of it. I'd rather see them do counseling and community service and work with some dogs."

The boys will receive 120 days of treatment and rehabilitation during the RID program at Fort Supply.

Upon completion of their program, they will be sentenced according to their performance at the camp. Sentencing likely will include community service, restitution, counseling, and probation.