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Supreme Court of Pennsylvania

Com. v. Kneller
987 A.2d 716 (Pa., 2009)

Case Details
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Summary:   The Supreme Court of Pennsylvania took up this appeal involving the defendant's criminal conspiracy to commit cruelty to animals after the defendant provided a gun and instructed her boyfriend to shoot and kill their dog after the dog allegedly bit the defendant’s child. The Supreme Court vacated the order of the Superior Court and remanded the case to the Superior Court (--- A.2d ----, 2009 WL 215322) in accordance with the dissenting opinion of the Superior Court's order. The Court further observed that the facts revealed no immediate need to kill the dog and that there was "unquestionably malicious beating of the dog" prior to it being shot. While the issue before the Superior Court centered around whether an owner may use a firearm to destroy his or her own dog after the dog has attacked a person, the Supreme Court held that the facts here showed no immediate need to kill the dog.

Judge PER CURIAM delivered the opinion of the court.

Opinion of the Court:


Petition for Allowance of Appeal from the Order of the Superior Court at 1016 EDA 2007, dated January 30, 2009, reversing the Judgment of Sentence of the Court of Common Pleas of Carbon County at CP-13-CR-0000267-2006, dated October 23, 2006.



*1 AND NOW, this 31st day of December, 2009, the Petition for Allowance of Appeal is hereby GRANTED. The order of the Superior Court is VACATED, and the issue REMANDED to the Superior Court for further proceedings pursuant to Judge Stevens' dissenting opinion. Commonwealth v. Kneller, 971 A.2d 495, 504 (Pa.Super. January 30, 2009) ( en banc ) (Stevens, J., dissenting). The Commonwealth, as verdict winner, is entitled to have the facts reviewed in the light most favorable to it. Commonwealth v. Drumheller, 808 A.2d 893, 907-08 (Pa.2002). The facts, viewed accordingly, reveal no immediate need to kill the dog, a directive by respondent to her co-defendant to kill the dog, and the unquestionably malicious beating of the dog before it was shot. These facts provide sufficient evidence to support respondent's conviction of conspiracy to commit cruelty to animals, and should not have been undone because of considerations of a dog owner's authority to humanely shoot the dog. See Commonwealth v. Murphy, 844 A.2d 1228, 1238 (Pa.2004) (conspirator responsible for acts of co-conspirator done in furtherance of agreement). Jurisdiction relinquished.


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