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Man Admits To Shooting Goats, Dog in San Juan County


Associated Press
      AZTEC — A 24-year-old man has pleaded guilty to gunning down nine sheep or goats and a dog while shooting from a truck last summer.
    Derek Witt accepted a plea this week for three felonies: extreme cruelty to animals, injury to livestock and shooting from a motor vehicle. Eight other counts of injury to livestock were dropped under the plea agreement.
    The shots killed or critically injured eight goats, a sheep and a sheep dog.
    Witt is to be sentenced Feb. 25.
    Charges are pending against Thomas Obiedo, 30, and Dale McDaniel, 31.
    "I have no idea what they were thinking, and I would venture a guess that they're probably wondering what they were thinking then, too," Chief Deputy District Attorney Dustin O'Brien said. "There wasn't any financial gain for them. It's like an act of vandalism, except they're dealing with living things."
    Authorities said the men were shooting prairie dogs off a county road last July 29, but fired into a field of goats and sheep they saw in a nearby field.
    "It was an incredibly stupid thing to do, and my client is embarrassed," said Witt's attorney, Jack Fortner. "My guy is taking responsibility."
    State District Judge Thomas Hynes said Witt will have to pay the full $1,200 in restitution listed for the 10 animals.
    A witness turned on a video camera, and a temporary license plate caught on tape was used in the investigation.


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