Accomack Dognapping Case Headed to Grand Jury - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Accomack Dognapping Case Headed to Grand Jury

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ACCOMACK COUNTY, Va. - The case of three people, including a former MMA fighter, accused of stealing a dog from a Hopeton home in January, is headed to a grand jury in Accomack County.  The grand jury will decide if there is enough evidence to indict Charlene Boyajian, Bettina Rodriguez, and Gordon Shell on felony animal larceny charges.

Boyajian and Rodriguez, of Virginia Beach, and Shell, the former Mixed Martial Artist of Michigan, were in an Accomack County court room on Monday for their preliminary hearing.  Police said a dog was stolen from the front yard of its home on Matthews Road back in January.  The defense argued on Monday that the dog was being treated poorly and it was considered abandoned, and there is no way the three defendants can steal abandoned property.  However, a judge found there was enough evidence in the case to not drop the charges and send the case for a grand jury.

Charles Knitter is the founder of the Accomack Animal League and said a day after the preliminary hearing, he is happy to see the case move forward. 

"I can't comment on anybody's guilt or innocence but it needs to be brought to light and I am sure they will get a fair trial.  There is a great bit of evidence," Knitter said.

All of the evidence in the case, including witness testimony, will be heard in open court if the defendants are indicted and there is a trial.  However, whether guilty or not, Knitter is hoping the hearings and trial send a strong message.

"The message needs to be clear, not just for Accomack County, but across the county, that vigilante justice when it comes to animal welfare should not be tolerated because it really impedes the process of the legitimate work that has to be done."

A trial date will be set if Boyajian, Rodriguez, and Shell are indicted by a grand jury.  As far as the dog that was allegedly stolen in this case, police say it has never been recovered.

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