A Calhoun County man who attacked a dog that had been “driving him nuts’’ by begging for food lost a bid to have his conviction and sentence overturned.
David Eugene Hursley “said repeatedly that the dog was driving him nuts with the begging and that the dog needed to learn his manners,’’ a witness testified at Hursley’s 2016 trial for animal cruelty and killing/torturing an animal.
The dog, described as a husky mix named Obi, was shot with a pellet gun and beaten with a baseball bat. A Battle Creek police officer shot the animal to put it out of its misery.
Police said the dog appeared to be in severe pain, “had much blood on his head and neck area, had difficulty breathing and had eyes twitching every which way.’’
A jury found Hursley guilty of torturing a dog and animal cruelty. He was sentenced to a minimum of nearly four years in prison.
“He is a ruthless predator and habitual criminal with a violent past and the heinous way this crime was carried out is very disturbing,’’ Calhoun County Assistant Prosecutor Dana Porter said at Hursley’s Oct. 2016 sentencing.
Testimony at trial indicated Obi bit Hursley’s friend after the dog had been punched several times inside a Battle Creek home in Feb. 2016. That’s when Hursley returned with the pellet gun and shot the dog, which was also beaten with a baseball bat.
Hursley admitted to drinking beer and whiskey the night Obi was shot, but said he "wasn't sloppy drunk.''
Several people were living there at the time. One resident said the blood-covered dog was “lying on the ground, spinning around on his side and howling.’’
“The dog was crying and blood was going everywhere as he flopped around, but he was not dead,’’ according to court records.
Hursley contends he was justified in shooting the dog after it bit a friend in the hand. In an eight-page decision released this week, the Court of Appeals disagreed.
Michigan law, the Appeals Court said, “does not protect a defendant who has provoked a dog by torturing it before it attacked a person.’’
“We cannot conclude that defendant was entitled to kill a dog that bit a person only after it was attacked,’’ justices wrote. “Given the extensive testimony that the dog was suffering, a rational juror could find the element of torture beyond a reasonable doubt.’’
Hursley, 56, is at the Newberry Correctional Facility in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. He is eligible for release in July, 2020. His maximum discharge date is Sept. 2031.
Hursley has a lengthy criminal background going back to 1980. Offenses include breaking and entering, auto theft, prison escape and multiple drunk driving convictions.
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