Judge’s Sentencing of Former MLB Player Reflects Outcry from Our Supporters

Judge’s Sentencing of Former MLB Player Reflects Outcry from Our Supporters

Public outcry from animal advocates undoubtedly played a role in returning former MLB first-draft player, Shawn Wesley Abner, to prison for the gruesome death of his dog named Eagle. Our letter to the prosecutor in Abner’s case, along with thousands of signatures from In Defense of Animals supporters, was presented to the judge to push for the maximum punishment the law allows.

In July 2019, Shawn Wesley Abner left his Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania residence to visit his girlfriend in the state of Kansas. In August, Abner called a neighbor in his hometown to check on Eagle, who was found nearly mummified and melted into the urine buckled floor of his sweltering dwelling. Abner was subsequently detained in Kansas, extradited to Pennsylvania, and charged with aggravated animal cruelty.

In November, Abner pled guilty to the torturous death of his “best friend” Eagle, who was left to suffer in agony as he slowly dehydrated and starved to death in the brutal summer heat.

Our letter was presented to Common Pleas Judge, Albert H. Masland, by Cumberland County, Pennsylvania District Attorney Skip Ebert. At Abner’s sentencing, Judge Masland referred to the 11,493 signatures attached to our letter, which called for the maximum sentencing of Shawn Wesley Abner, and it made an impact. Judge Masland stated, "What you did is inexplicable, inexcusable and perhaps in some minds unforgivable, but it is not damnable, and it is not deserving of eternal condemnation."

While Judge Masland acknowledged the overwhelming concern of our supporters, he did not accept the defense’s recommendation of 110 days served. Instead, he drew from the minimum sentencing of nine months incarceration recommended by DA Ebert. Abner was sentenced to serve 4 ½ to 23 months incarceration with time served with the possibility of parole. Judge Masland also added a $500 fine and 200 hours of community service, with 60% to be served aiding a humane organization, and 100 hours to serve in south-central Pennsylvania. Abner was also ordered to submit to a mental health evaluation.

We are pleased Judge that Masland recognized the strong feelings of our supporters who sought justice for Eagle; however, we share your disappointment that the maximum penalty for this shocking crime was not delivered. The good news is that prosecutors and judges are listening. We sincerely appreciate your support and participation in responding to our alerts. Together, we are making the world a better place for animals!

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