By Ann McCreary
A jury has found Judy Brezina Camp of Carlton not guilty on two charges – taking a pet and lying to a police officer – but convicted her on a third charge of obstructing a law enforcement officer.
Camp admitted taking a dog home last December after she found the animal chained outside in sub-zero weather at a residence north of Twisp. Following a one-day trial in Okanogan County District Court on Thursday (March 27), a six-person jury found her innocent of taking a pet.
Juanita Macgruder of Carlton, the dog’s owner, testified that the dog was kept chained outside on property belonging to a friend who lived 15 miles away from the Macgruder home. Macgruder said the property owner was often gone, and the dog, a blue heeler named Duke, had been kept there for “two-and-a-half or three years” to keep people away.
Macgruder said she and her husband and son stopped by daily to check on Duke and give him food and water.
Valley residents called as defense witnesses testified that the dog was kept confined on a short chain attached to a flatbed trailer on the property at 616 Twisp-Winthrop Eastside Road. They said the dog was exposed to harsh weather and the dog’s food and water were sometimes frozen or the bowls were tipped over.
Camp said she took Duke to her home on the evening of Friday, Dec. 6, after reading about it on a local Internet bulletin board, because she “was afraid it would freeze.” Camp testified her intention was to keep the dog over the weekend and to try to locate the dog’s owner after taking it Valley Veterinary Clinic for a check up the following Monday.
Charges of making false or misleading statement to a public servant and obstructing a law enforcement officer stemmed from an encounter between Camp and Sheriff’s Deputy Dave Yarnell on Dec. 9 at the veterinary clinic.
Yarnell testified that the dog was reported missing by the Magruders and he was subsequently informed that a dog matching the description of the missing animal was being brought to Valley Veterinary Clinic on Dec. 9.
Yarnell said he found Camp there and said to her, “You’ve found the stolen dog.” Yarnell said he knew the dog because he had checked on it on a few occasions previously after receiving complaints about its condition, and had found “nothing criminal” about the way the dog was being treated.
Camp testified she thought Yarnell was speaking to her in a joking manner and responded similarly, telling him the dog was hers.
When Yarnell told Camp he knew that the dog was not hers and that she could not keep the dog, Camp argued with him and refused to let the dog be returned to its owners, Yarnell said. Camp subsequently tried to take the dog from the clinic and put it in her car.
As Camp was trying to put the dog into the car, Yarnell tried to remove it. A scuffle occurred and Camp “elbowed me in the chest,” Yarnell testified. At that point Yarnell told Camp she had assaulted him and placed her under arrest.
Sentencing on the charge of obstructing a law enforcement officer will take place on April 11.