“Free To A Good Home” Craigslist Dog Killer Sentenced In West Virginia
Convicted serial dog killer, Jeffrey Nally, of New Cumberland West
Virginia was sentenced by Judge Fred Fox II on Wednesday to 10-45 years
behind bars. While animal advocates would rather have seen him spend
life in prison, the truth is that this sentence is substantial
considering that animal abuse cases seldom carry this kind of weight.
From that standpoint, the outcome is a victory. It is true, though, that this was no run-of-the mill animal abuse
case. This was a brutal series of intentional mutilations, torture, and
execution of innocent puppies. Nally was accused of mutilating and
killing 29 puppies (who) he received through classified ads, and
Craigslist “free to good home” ads.
Nally’s house was raided by a SWAT team in March of 2011 when his
girlfriend’s mother called authorities. His then girlfriend, Jessica
Sellers, alleged that Nally had been holding her captive in his home and
terrorizing her by torturing and murdering the animals in front of her. Police found 29 dog carcasses on Nally’s property. They also found
guns, which Nally was prohibited from possessing due to a 2010 domestic
battery conviction, and collected other items including blood and hair
covered tools and what appeared to be a beagle’s pelt and eyes in a jar. During an evidence suppression hearing, Nally’s court-appointed
attorney, James Carey, had argued to keep the pelt and the eyes out of
evidence, citing a lack of scientific proof the items are what police
claimed them to be. He also stated that he believed some of the crime
scene photographs were staged. Nally, age 20, was facing 29 counts of felony animal cruelty, one
count of domestic battery, one count of kidnapping and one count of
unlawful possession of a firearm. Although he had passed on a plea deal
offered to him last January, he took the plea offer he was offered this
Hancock County Prosecutor James W. Davis said that there had been an
overwhelming outpouring of concern in the form of letters and e-mails
from around the world relating to this case. Nally pled guilty to nine charges of felony animal abuse and unlawful
possession of a firearm. He will receive one to five years on each
count of cruelty, and one year on the firearm charge to be served
concurrently. Nally has already spent a year behind bars while his case was
continued in Hancock County Court. He will have to serve a minimum of
five years before he can apply for an early release. In exchange for
pleading guilty to the nine charges of felony cruelty, the sexual
assault, kidnapping charge and other 20 cruelty charges were dropped.
Nally has shown no remorse for his actions, but Davis said that he
has changed during the past year. “I wouldn’t call it remorse, but he
has accepted that what he did was wrong,” said Davis. “Of course, people
like this, sociopaths, they are mostly only concerned with how
circumstances are affecting them.”
Restrictions on Nally ever having a pet and other requirements will
be addressed further down the road at the time of his eventual release.
“Not just having any pet,” Davis said. “I don’t want him to be around
any animals, ever. Definitely not under the same roof.” Davis said that a few dogs had escaped the house of horrors and have been adopted. “They are having great lives.” He said.
Part of the plea deal is the condition that Nally submit to a
polygraph test and debrief authorities on Seller’s involvement in the
cruelty charges. Sellers reportedly told investigators Nally said the
only way she was leaving his 1855 Orchard Road home was “in a body bag,”
and that on the day of his arrest he forced her to hold a puppy as he
bored into its head with an electric drill. However, she testified
during a February pretrial motions hearing that she had left the house
without Nally’s supervision on several occasions during her
approximately three-month “captivity” there.
“Ms. Sellers was a problematic witness,” Davis said, “because there
is some question as to her level of involvement. There is some evidence
that she obtained the animals for him. My dogs, they won’t hold still
to have their nails clipped…these dogs he tortured…to do what he did,
somebody had to hold them still. A dog is not going to hold still while a
drill is bored into its skull.” Davis was audibly distressed while discussing details of the case,
and became overwhelmed and unable to continue when it was remarked that
the case had greatly disturbed him.
Following Wednesday’s hearing, Davis had noted the contributions of
other people and groups involved with the investigation, including West
Virginia State Police Cpl. Larry Roberts, Hancock County sheriff’s Sgt.
Scott Swan and county Animal Control Officer Nicole Busick. He praised
the work of forensic experts Drs. Beth Wictum of UC Davis and Melinda Merck
– the latter of whom helped federal prosecutors build a case against
Michael Vick – and thanked the Animal Legal Defense Fund for its pledge
of financial support for the prosecution of the case.
Scott Heiser, of the Animal Legal Defense Fund, said there is still
work to be done. He referred to Nally as a narcissistic psychopath, and
said that he believes that Nally cannot be rehabilitated. He does not
think that Nally will be released in as little as five years. “He is a clear and manifest threat to society,” Heiser said.
The Animal Legal Defense Fund
is a non-profit that helps provide funds and support to prosecutors
around the country for the best possible outcome in criminal cases of
animal abuse. They provided the funds for the forensic scientists to
build the case against Nally.
Heiser recommends that once Nally is transferred to the WV Division
of Corrections, risk-scored, placed in one of WV’s several prisons and
his projected release date set that then would be a good time to start a
petition campaign urging the Parole Board to recognize Nally’s immense
danger to society and ask that they deny him any concessions (e.g., no
work release) and deny his release after serving the five-year minimum.http://our-compass.org/2012/04/11/free-to-a-good-home-craigslist-dog-killer-sentenced-in-west-virginia/