MEDIA RELEASE: Victory! Warren County Man Who Violently Abused Dog & Terrorized His Pregnant Partner Convicted of Animal Cruelty
Vicksburg, MS (June 17, 2020) — In Defense of Animals representative Doll Stanley attended Warren County Court on Monday, June 15 to witness justice in the trial of a Vicksburg man who was caught on video violently slamming his girlfriend’s dog on the hood of a parked truck during a domestic disturbance.
Walter Stewart III, of Berryman Road, was in a heated dispute with his girlfriend that turned violent on May 26, 2020. Stewart’s girlfriend, Kiera Buck, escaped him, getting inside a vehicle. A friend of Buck’s captured Stewart slamming Kiera’s dog, Kato, a young pit bull, on video. He grabbed Kato by his feet, swung the frightened animal in a circular motion overhead to gain momentum, and slammed him onto the hood of a truck. Amazingly, Buck reported that Kato is doing well, and is living with a relative.
Stewart was arrested on May 27 by Warren County Sheriff’s Deputies. Stewart, a convicted felon, violated his parole and was not bonded out.
On Monday, June 15, Stewart pleaded guilty to a count of aggravated animal cruelty, which is currently a first offense misdemeanor under Mississippi § 97-41-16, Maliciously injuring dogs or cats (2) (b).
Presiding Judge Marcie Tanner Southerland accepted a plea bargain agreed on by Stewart’s defense attorney and Prosecutor Kenneth Harper. Buck, an expectant mother, was considered in the agreement. Stewart was handed the maximum sentence of a $2,500 fine, six months of incarceration, state assessments, and $400 to be paid to his defense attorney. He will also serve 80 hours of community service when released from jail, and may not be anywhere around Kato.
Prosecutor Harper intended to seek the maximum sentence for both charges. When speaking candidly with Stanley, he said, “I haven’t seen such a horrific crime as this.”
Judge Southerland spoke pointedly to Stewart, saying, "In this court violence to people, children, and animals is taken seriously." She added, "Statistics, not mine, show that people who hurt animals hurt people."
She cautioned Buck about staying with Stewart but told her that they were adults and that it was her choice, but that Kato was not to live with them.
“Judge Southerland’s firm stance on animal cruelty is admirable; we need more judges like her who protect the victims and understand that violence to animals and violence to humans is strongly linked,” said Stanley. “While we welcome news that Stewart will serve the maximum sentence, this shocking and terrifying offense is a mere misdemeanor under Mississippi’s weak animal laws. Those who inflict brutality on animals are a danger to society. If you care about protecting your community, please contact your state legislators and urge them to support Senator Angela Hill’s amendment to the Mississippi Dog and Cat Protection Law of 2011, which will make crimes like this one a felony on a first offense. Abusers like Stewart must face fitting penalties for violence.”
You can get the contact details of your representatives here: www.idausa.org/findmyrep.
Doll Stanley has served animals in Mississippi and the surrounding states for 27 years, working with law enforcement, prosecutors, and judges for the prevention and prosecution of animal cruelty, and the rescue of horribly abused animals.
“Domestic violence has no boundaries,” said Stanley. “No one within the circle of a raging human is safe. Children, parents, spouses, and animal companions cannot escape the wrath of an abuser. Law enforcement and good Samaritans coming to the aid of the target of abuse are often injured or killed. Domestic violence is a crime that has only begun to be taken seriously and there is much work to be done to protect the millions of victims of this most volatile of crimes.”
In Defense of Animals has served Mississippi and surrounding communities through its Justice for Animals Campaign and Hope Animal Sanctuary since 1993.
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Contact: Doll Stanley, Doll@idausa.org, (662) 809-4483
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In Defense of Animals is an international animal protection organization with over 250,000 supporters and a 37-year history of protecting animals’ rights, welfare, and habitats through education, campaigns, and hands-on rescue facilities in India, South Korea, and rural Mississippi. www.idausa.org