Outside Judge Takes Metcalf Appeal
Ex-HPD Officer Convicted Of Animal Cruelty In Dog Death
Posted: October 10, 2012
HARRISONBURG — A disinterested judge has been appointed to oversee the appeal of a former Harrisonburg police officer convicted of animal cruelty for shooting a family’s dog in Clover Hill.
On Aug. 23, retired Judge Steven Helvin of Charlottesville found Russell Metcalf, 51, of Dayton, guilty of animal cruelty and reckless handling of a firearm following a trial in Rockingham County General District Court. He was sentenced to a 60-day suspended jail term and prohibited from possessing a domesticated animal for six months.
Metcalf was convicted of killing an 8-month-old border collie mix named Sadie as he rode his bicycle on Robinson Road on April 3.
Metcalf, a former sergeant who later resigned from the Harrisonburg Police Department, appealed Helvin’s decision.
As with the initial trial, local judges recused themselves from the appeal case because of ties to Metcalf through his work at HPD.
At a hearing Tuesday in Rockingham County Circuit Court, Judge Dennis Hupp was appointed to preside over the appeal process.
Hupp serves primarily in Shenandoah and Warren counties.
Metcalf is scheduled to appear in circuit court again on Nov. 13.
In the first trial, Metcalf admitted to killing the dog, but said he did so out of self-defense. The dog was within striking distance of his right leg, he testified, and he believed it was about to bite him. Witnesses, however, said the dog was not acting aggressively when Metcalf opened fire.
The former officer rode away after the shooting, and Sadie’s owners began asking for the public’s help in identifying the shooter.
Initially, Metcalf denied having knowledge of the incident but acknowledged his role when pressed by an investigator.
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