New Eagle couple ordered to trial in alleged abuse of puppies

April 10, 2014
Danny R. and Kimberly Watts leave court Thursday. - Scott Beveridge / Observer-Reporter Order a Print

MONONGAHELA – A New Eagle couple Thursday were ordered to stand trial in Washington County Court on charges they abused their two 13-week-old puppies, one of which the prosecution claims was stabbed five times after it bit their young daughter.

District Judge Mark Wilson in Monongahela ruled at a preliminary hearing there was sufficient evidence to order a trial for Kimberly Watts, 26, and Danny Roosevelt Watts, 25, who each face one count of animal cruelty, endangering the welfare of children and disorderly conduct.

Monongahela police Officer Roderic Henson, who investigated the case, testified at the hearing the mother admitted to chasing one of her pit bulls named Trooper down the hall of her mobile home and stabbing it with a buck knife March 22 after it bit her 2-year-old daughter in the lip and forehead.

Henson said Kimberly Watts also said that’s what she was taught to do while he questioned her about the dog’s injuries.

The child required five stitches to close her wounds. The dog, meanwhile, was taken to an emergency veterinary hospital for the treatment of two serious stab wounds. The animal also suffered three superficial lacerations, the vet, Rachel Mitchell of Clarksville, testified.

Henson said he found a second pit bull, Sadie Belle, limping around the mobile home at 135 Union St. the next day when he returned for a follow-up investigation.

He said Danny Watts admitted to throwing that dog a few feet to the floor after separating his two pets when they were fighting.

Humane police officer Cathy Cunningham testified that dog needed surgery to insert a pin in its fractured left front leg bone. Both of the puppies are in foster care.

Both Cunningham and Henson said they found the interior of the home in deplorable condition, with feces smashed into the floor, furniture upturned and it smelling of urine.

A Washington County Children and Youth Services representative attended the hearing, but he declined to comment on whether the agency had placed the couple’s two children in protective care.

Danny Watts’ public defender, Russell Korner, argued to have the case dismissed on the basis the prosecution failed to present a witness other than Henson to substantiate the allegations. A neighbor who had cooperated in the case has since relocated to either North Carolina or South Carolina, he said.

Kimberly Watts’ attorney, John Puskar of Washington, said his client didn’t act in malice.

“She was an outraged mom acting in defense of the child,” Puskar said after the hearing ended.

Assistant Washington County District Attorney Kristin Clingerman, however, argued the case had been established based on the statements of the witnesses.

The Wattses rushed from court after the hearing while shield their faces from news cameras. They are both free, each on $5,000 bond.

Scott Beveridge is a North Charleroi native who has lived most of his life in nearby Rostraver Township. He is a general assignments reporter focusing on investigative journalism and writing stories about the mid-Mon Valley. He has a bachelor's degree from Indiana University of Pennsylvania and a master's from Duquesne University. Scott spent three weeks in Vietnam in 2004 as a foreign correspondent under an International Center for Journalists fellowship.

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