Christopher Craig Garrett, 32, Joseph, was convicted of animal abuse in the second degree in Wallowa County Circuit Court Oct. 26. One count of animal abuse was dismissed for lack of evidence. Garrett was also sentenced for a July 21 conviction on three domestic violence counts: menacing, assault in the fourth degree and unlawful use of a weapon.
Deputy district Attorney Rebecca Frolander prosecuted the case for the state. Court-appointed attorney Jeffry Wallace defended Garrett. Judge Russell B. West presided.
The animal abuse charge stemmed from incidents in June 2016. The victim of the July 21 incident testified that the defendant had shot the family dog multiple times while testing an air soft gun and also tortured the animal with an electric cattle prod, including putting the device in the dog’s mouth and shocking it multiple times.
She testified that Garrett had begun physically abusing the animal by punching, kicking and slamming the dog to the ground. When the dog would run away, she testified that Garrett used the cattle prod to reach the dog as it hid under a table and chairs.
She wept as she described the dog being “cornered” and trying to bite at the prod to defend itself as Garrett repeatedly shocked the animal until it was too weak to retaliate.
On cross examination Wallace contended that the air soft gun didn’t have the velocity to seriously wound the dog and questioned whether Garrett deliberately shocked the dog in the mouth or the shocks resulted from the dog biting at the cattle prod.
Wallowa County Sheriff’s Deputy Kevin McQuead testified and examined the cattle prod, which was confiscated as a result of the domestic violence incidents and admitted as evidence. He noted the bite marks on the end the prod as well as dog hair and saliva.
Christopher Garrett took the stand in his own defense and testified the dog was always aggressive and got more aggressive with age. He said he tried to buy a shock collar to control the dog but bought a cattle prod because he couldn’t find a collar to fit the dog.
Garret added he only used the prod on three occasions and added he never shocked the dog when the prod was in its mouth. He also testified he never shot the dog with the air soft rifle.
Garrett’s father, Melvin Garrett, said the dog got particularly aggressive after a kick to the head by a horse and described the dog as “stupid” afterward. He also said he had witnessed an incident where his son used a cattle prod on the dog but testified the dog was never shocked.
On cross examination, Frolander produced a recording of Melvin Garrett talking to his son, who was in jail at the time. In response to his son’s question about an incident, the elder Garrett replied, “Probably that day I was over there and you was shocking him, I guess.”
West dismissed the charges on the air soft gun due to a lack of evidence but found Garrett guilty of the cattle prod incidents.
The sentencing phase for the domestic violence convictions included Frolander asking for a five-year sentence, the state minimum sentence for felony crimes involving the use of a firearm. She noted that while she respected Garrett’s military record, a presentencing investigation concluded Garrett had anger issues before entering the service, and his service did not excuse his crimes.
She also asked that if West decided to reduce the five-year sentence, he would sentence the victim to 13-14 months with Department of Corrections.
The victim also read a statement describing her abuse and asking the court for a punitive sentence.
“If you let him go without consequences now, I fear that this behavior will never change,” she said.
Wallace argued that Garrett deserved leniency because of his meritorious service in Iraq and Afghanistan, which included a Bronze Star. and his post traumatic stress disorder. The defendant performed volunteer work and underwent counseling.
In his response, West thanked Garrett for his service. With some pointed remarks, West also noted his own father’s WWII service, which included the battles for both Iwo Jima and Okinawa in the Pacific Theater.
“He saw 7,000 of his buddies get killed on Iwo Jima, and I respect his memory,” he said. “Like you, he was in combat. He came back and lived a normal life; he raised his family. He never laid a hand on my mother.”
West said his service did not give him a pass to abuse his wife.
“The problem I have here is that I did not hear a single word of remorse,” he said. “You admitted you grabbed her by the jaw –– you never even said, ‘well that was wrong.’”
The judge also said the case demanded justice and sentenced Garrett to 60 days in jail with credit for time served on the assault conviction and three years probation and to enroll in the batterers intervention program. He reduced the fine to $100.
He sentenced Garrett to 60 concurrent days for the menacing conviction and 30 days jail consecutive for the animal abuse conviction.
The unlawful use of a weapon conviction netted Garrett 13 months in state custody.
West cited Garrett’s service as a reason for the downward departure from the state minimum.
“You went through hell,” West said. “For that I’m giving you consideration, but it doesn’t give you a pass.”