August 1, 2014

Elyria
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Judge rejects request to drop pig death charges

ELYRIA — Judge Lisa Locke Graves refused to dismiss charges filed against a man accused of killing a pet pig in January.

Gary Cunningham of Grafton is accused of killing his neighbor’s potbellied pig Snork after it wandered into his yard Jan. 30. Cunningham has said his friend killed the pig, and that man has not been charged. He also believed the pig was a wild boar, and he said the pig attacked him and a bystander.

On Wednesday, Cunningham’s lawyer, James Skelton, asked that Locke Graves dismiss the charge because the pig had caused more damage to Cunningham’s property than the pig was worth. Skelton cited Ohio Revised Code 959.04, saying that the pig, which he estimated was worth $50, caused more than $1,200 in damages to Cunningham’s screen door and air conditioning unit.

Skelton said the pig “head-butted and rammed” the air conditioning unit after chasing a witness, who was not found.

Locke Graves said, however, that whether the pig trespassed on Cunningham’s property, the value of the pig and the damages it may have done were issues to be discussed in court.

“I don’t believe I can address the motion to dismiss without determining value,” she said.

Larry Plas, the owner of the pig, has said he is not concerned with monetary compensation, but he believes the pig is worth more because he considered it a family pet. He said he was devastated by the loss of Snork, who often did tricks and took trips to the retirement home to entertain residents.

Snork was shot and killed in Cunningham’s yard. Cunningham said he called a friend to shoot the pig after receiving permission from the game warden. The friend contacted Nick Turner, the game warden in Harrison County, not the Lorain County game warden, Randy White, as previously reported.

White said Turner is a friend of the man who shot the pig, and Turner told him there were no laws regarding shooting a feral pig in open season.

Cunningham faces charges of killing an animal and cruelty to animals. Each of the charges carries a maximum sentence of 90 days in jail and a $750 fine.

Cunningham pleaded not guilty to each charge, and a pretrial hearing was scheduled before Judge Gary Bennett at 1:40 p.m. May 14.

Contact Chelsea Miller at 329-7123 or cmiller@chroniclet.com.