Murray grand jury declines to indict in dog shooting video case

A Murray County grand jury earlier this year declined to indict two people who had been criminally charged in connection with a video circulated on Facebook that showed a five-month-old dog being shot multiple times with a small handgun, District Attorney Bert Poston said.

A charge of cruelty to animals, a misdemeanor, was filed by the Murray County Sheriff’s Office against Jeremy Heath Tipton, who was listed as homeless, and Austin Bailey Rich of Chatsworth.

The Chatsworth woman who owned the dog, Mary Pruitt, the mother of Tipton, said at the time that she wanted to end the suffering of the sick puppy, noting the dog "was loved so much." She said she couldn't afford to take it to a veterinarian.

Pruitt said Wacky Blacky had been sick for five days and after trying to nurse the puppy back to health, she couldn’t stand to see it suffer any more.

She said she had called a friend "and asked if there was anyone that could help end his suffering.”

The sheriff's office said the video was posted by Tipton to his Facebook page in January. Rich was the shooter. The video had 11,000 views shortly after it was posted and was shared numerous times.

“To me, that (the dog's death) was a blessing, but I didn’t have any idea he didn’t have no idea how to kill an animal,” Pruitt said of the multiple shots. " ... I would have stopped it if I had known."

Murray County Detective Brett Morrison had said in order for a cruelty to animals charge to elevate to aggravated cruelty to animals, a felony, it would have to be proven there was some malice in the killing of the dog.

“They weren’t trying to punish that dog or torture it or hurt it anymore than it was,” said Pruitt, who said at the time she hadn’t seen the video and didn’t plan on watching it. “He just didn’t know how to make it over quick. That dog was loved so much and I hope everyone can forgive these boys."

According to a sheriff's office incident report, Pruitt said she asked Rich "if he would do it for her. She said he agreed."

The dog was buried, a witness said, according to the incident report.

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