UPDATE: News 12 at 6 o' clock/ February 4, 2014
Balto, a local veteran's service dog, is recovering after a burglar shot him during a home invasion. (WRDW-TV / May 8, 2012)
AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW) -- It's a guilty verdict for the man who was part of a burglary that ended with a veteran's service dog being shot.
Joshua Patterson was found guilty of burglary and aggravated animal cruelty Tuesday, but the state never accused Patterson of being the trigger man behind the crime.
In an interview with investigators, Patterson admitted to going to Kinga Kiss-Johnson's home with two others, knowing about the burglary, and waiting in the bushes until he heard gunshots. But, the hand of one is the hand of all, and a jury believed the state had enough proof to place Patterson at the scene of the crime.
Patterson will find out Thursday how long he'll be spending behind bars for a crime that left Johnson's service dog Balto with two gunshot wounds. Veterinarian's say he may never fully recover.
Balto was in court, along with other service dogs and their owners showing support. But Balto's owner says this is not the end of the road. She wants to make sure service animals are better protected. They're hoping to work with the service dog foundation to create a law that would give stricter punishments for injuring a service dog, like the ones that come along with injuring police or military dogs.
News 12 at 6 o' clock/ February 3, 2014
AUGUSTA, Ga.--One of the men accused of burglarizing a veteran's home and shooting her service dog appeared in court Monday.
Joshua Patterson faces charges of animal cruelty and burglary. He tried to get the state to agree to a plea deal, but that didn't work.
Patterson's newly appointed lawyer, Jason Hasty, asked for a trade of a guilty plea for a 20 year sentence, 10 of those years to be served in prison. But, that wasn't good enough for the state. They declined that deal, selected a jury, and the trial got underway.
There was a lot of two legged and four legged support for the victim in court, including Balto, the dog shot during the crime.
His owner, Kinga Kiss-Johnson, says he's starting to get back to normal, but every day is a struggle. Johnson was injured in combat in Afghanistan where she broke her back and neck, and sustained a brain injury. She also suffers from PTSD and Balto is always by her side to help.
Back in May of 2012, her home was broken into, some items were stolen, and Balto was shot in the chest. He survived, but it's been a tough recovery, and he still can't wear a harness.
In court, those memories came flooding back as Johnson listened to a recorded statement from the defendant.
He admitted to being at the home during the burglary, but says he stayed outside in the bushes as a look out.
Service dogs like Balto are valued between 50 and 60 thousand dollars for their level of training.
The trial continues Tuesday, and the prosecution expects it to wrap up by the end of the day.
Monday, Feb. 3, 2014
AUGUSTA, GA (WRDW)-The jury has been selected in the case of a man accused of robbing a wounded warrior's home and shooting her service dog.
Joshua Patterson pleaded not guilty to allegedly breaking into Kinga Kiss Johnson's home and shooting her service dog Balto in 2012.
Balto was in court with Johnson this morning as the jury was selected. A few other service dogs and their owners showed up in court to show their support.