ELKTON — A man who beat, kicked and strangled his puppy dog to death in the backyard of his Elkton residence — because the pet had urinated on his couch — received a maximum three-year sentence Wednesday, after accepting a plea deal.
Cecil County District Court Judge Clara E. Campbell imposed the three-year sentence on the defendant, Ibe Nyshere Lyles, 42, of the 100 block of Mallard Court in Elkton, after he pleaded guilty to aggravated animal cruelty, which is a felony.
Campbell suspended one month of the sentence and then ordered Lyles to serve two years of supervised probation, after completing his 35-month term in a Maryland Department of Corrections prison.
The judge barred Lyles from “owning or possessing” an animal during his two-year probationary period and also precluded him from residing with one during that time. In addition, Campbell ordered Lyles to undergo a psychiatric evaluation and fined him $1,000.
As part of Wednesday morning’s plea deal, prosecutors dismissed two related misdemeanor charges against Lyles, in exchange for his guilty plea.
On Wednesday afternoon, Cecil County Interim State’s Attorney James Dellmyer applauded Campbell for imposing the maximum sentence on Lyles after the defendant had pleaded guilty to the case’s most serious charge.
“While the law distinguishes pets as property, I believe pets are extensions of our family and I am encouraged by the sentence in such a disturbing case,” Dellmyer said.
The county’s chief prosecutor lauded eyewitnesses who came forward after the incident and Elkton Police Department Ofc. Edward Donnelly and Officer Daniel Puhalski of Cecil County Animal Services for the investigation they conducted. In addition, Dellmyer expressed gratitude to Dr. Rhonda Smetana, a veterinarian, for the postmortem investigation that she conducted and for the expert opinions that she rendered after completing it.
EPD officers went to Lyles’ residence in the 100 block of Mallard Court and the area near it at about 8:30 a.m. April 15, after an eyewitness had called 911, police said.
Investigators met with the man who had recorded the incident with his cellphone, as well as other witnesses who alleged that Lyles had attacked his puppy, “Deuces,” a 6-month-old, grey-and-white pit bull, police added.
“Witnesses advised that Lyles had tied the dog to the fence and continually beat the dog with a white rope. The suspect then choked the dog, before kicking it several times. Witnesses further advised that Lyles went back inside the residence, only to return moments later to kick the dog again. The dog had been lying motionless on the rear porch ever since,” according to court records.
At Lyles’ residence, investigators met with his relatives, according to court records, which indicate, “Family members advised that the dog was currently sleeping on the back porch and were unaware of the incident that took place.”
Officers found Lyles in a bedroom, where they arrested him without incident, police reported.
“He was secured in my patrol vehicle. While being secured, he stated that this was all because the ‘dog (urinated) on the couch’,” Donnelly reported in his written statement of probable cause contained in court records.
CCAC had been summoned to the scene too, police said, adding that Puhalski conducted an on-scene investigation, which included examining the dead dog.
“There was a small laceration to its left hind leg. A closer inspection of the dog’s gums had a white/grey tint; Officer Puhalski determined that was caused by a lack of oxygen. He believed that Lyles had strangled the dog. The dog may have suffered some internal injuries due to the beating,” according to the charging document.
The investigator reported that Deuces had had little mobility, according to court records, which outline, “The dog was tied to the chain link fence by a harness and choker. The short tether hindered the dog’s ability to move freely throughout the fence-in yard. There also was no water/food in the vicinity of the porch for the dog.”