A dispute between neighbors spilled into McDuffie County Magistrate Court last week, with one man accusing another of fatally poisoning a family pet this year.
McDuffie County Chief Magistrate Judge Bryant Swan ruled there was not enough evidence to issue a warrant against Leon Adams, who was accused of poisoning Gary Shafer's dog in July. Both men and more than a dozen witnesses spent nearly three hours in front of Judge Swan on Oct. 2 arguing their case.
Shafer said he took his sick dog to McDuffie Animal Hospital in early July. The dog died on July 4. He said a laboratory report, which was not allowed as evidence during the hearing, showed that his dog had been poisoned.
To prove his point, Shafer called numerous witnesses. Swan said there were various inconsistencies in their testimony, and they failed to prove that Adams poisoned Shafer's dog.
Shafer had been attempting to have a warrant sworn out against Adams, charging him with cruelty to animals. He met with McDuffie County sheriff's Investigator Larry Adaway, who said he couldn't establish enough probable cause to obtain a warrant himself. That created the need for a hearing to see whether the judge thought such evidence existed.
Adams and Shafer live in a neighborhood off Rousseau Creek Road at Thurmond Lake near the Columbia-McDuffie County line. At one time, the Adamses and the Shafers were good friends. But Adams and Shafer gradually grew apart because of various issues in the neighborhood, according to testimony.
The two men's wives agreed to stay friends, however, and did so until the Shafer's dog died.
The Shafers accused Adams of poisoning the dog, partially because he was frequently complaining about dogs in the neighborhood. Adams had called the McDuffie County Sheriff's Department and later an official with the McDuffie County Animal Control Shelter regarding a dog problem he was experiencing.
Adams, who was represented at last week's hearing by attorney Bobby L. Christine, also tried to humanely capture neighborhood dogs using cages, according to testimony.
"My client did everything he could to resolve this matter," Christine told Swan before his ruling.
Swan's ruling didn't sit well with Shafer, who vowed to hire a lawyer and to pursue the case in either criminal or civil court.
"I don't feel like justice was served," Shafer said.
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