Preliminary hearing set for man facing charges stemming from dog abuse, death

Photo by Nita Johnson

David Griffith, left, is accused of participating in abusing a stray dog earlier this month. Three other young men, including one juvenile, face charges stemming from the incident. Griffith is pictured here with his attorney, Conrad Cessna, as Griffith leaves the courtroom after Monday's court appearance.

One of the three adult teens involved in the abuse and death of a stray dog last month was arraigned in Laurel District Court on Monday.

David O. Griffith, 18, of Corbin appeared before Laurel District Judge John Chappell with his attorney Conrad Cessna to answer charges of two counts of third-degree unlawful transaction with a minor, second-degree cruelty to animals and obstructing governmental operations.

He was scheduled for a preliminary hearing on Tuesday, September 3.

Griffith faces charges in the incident but is free on bond at this time. A preliminary hearing allows evidence against the accused to be presented before the defense and prosecuting attorneys and judge. The judge will determine if the evidence indicates that a felony offense took place and then refers the case to the circuit level. Under Kentucky law, a felony offense cannot be tried at the district court level and must be sent before a grand jury for possible indictment.

Griffith, Toby Harrison, Noah Blevins and a juvenile male are all charged in the July 31 incident that began with a social media post of a male hitting a dog with his fist. The post caused disturbances among many residents viewing the video and several calls were made to the Laurel County Sheriff's Office.

The dog was later discovered in the East Bernstadt area with several stab wounds and died, according to the property owner where the dog was discovered and who had been feeding the dog.

The report from the Laurel County Sheriff's Office states that Griffith took two male juveniles that were under the influence of alcohol to a residence on Game Cock Road in northern Laurel County on the morning of the incident.

Griffith is accused of being the person who filmed one of the males punching the dog and posting it to social media. Griffith was questioned by Sheriff's deputies after the incident and denied being at the location when that incident took place and told investigating officers that he had no knowledge of the incident. Griffith and Blevins then contacted several people and told them to tell law enforcement personnel that neither of them were at the residence, the report further states.

Griffith was formally charged on Aug. 6 as a result of the ongoing investigation into the incident. Blevins was arrested the same day and remained incarcerated until Aug. 9. He was released on $25,000 bond, set at 10 percent, or $2,500.

Harrison and the male juvenile were both arrested on July 31. Harrison was released on Aug. 2 on $10,000 cash bond. Both Blevins and Harrison have already faced a preliminary hearing and their cases will be presented to a Laurel grand jury next month.

No information on the proceedings for the juvenile are available, as juvenile records are restricted from the public.

njohnson@sentinel-echo.com

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