Montgomery Co. man pleads guilty to trapping, killing dog in 2012

gkocher1@herald-leader.comJanuary 8, 2014 

VERSAILLES — Greg Trya, who set a trap in a public park where it killed a dog in 2012, pleaded guilty Wednesday to amended charges.

Tyra, 44, of Montgomery County, pleaded guilty to second-degree wanton endangerment, first-degree criminal mischief, second-degree cruelty to animals, and entry to hunt/fish without consent.

Prosecutor Steven Stadler said he will argue at sentencing on March 11 in Bourbon County that Tyra should serve 90 days in jail in addition to five years of probation. Defense attorney Ben Shields will argue for straight probation of five years, which means that Tyra would serve no jail time, but could serve five years in prison if he violated any terms of probation set by Judge Paul Isaacs.

Sophie, a rare French hound called a Petit Basset Griffon Vendeen, died in January 2012 when the metal trap clamped shut around her neck.

The incident happened as Robin Redmond of Paris took Sophie and another dog for a walk in Garrard Park north of downtown Paris. Redmond did not attend Wednesday's court proceeding, but Stadler said Redmond approved of the plea agreement.

"We had discussed the plea in depth," Stadler said.

The trap that killed Redmond's dog was a 220 Conibear "body-gripping" trap commonly used to kill raccoons, muskrats and groundhogs. The trap had been placed among rocks along a creek bank. An animal control officer and a state Fish and Wildlife Resources conservation officer searched both sides of the creek bank and found three more traps. Two of those were found on the property of Pleasant Street Preschool, 8 to 10 feet from a fenced-in playground.

Two more traps were found in Legion Park, another public park in Paris. The conservation officer had received a complaint about a seventh trap earlier that week.

Police later saw Tyra holding animal traps in a Garrard Park and confronted him. Tyra acknowledged that he was the one who had set the traps in the park. He also told police he had more than 50 traps set in Bourbon County "but refused to tell where they were," according to a complaint filed in court.

A police search of Tyra's pickup found a loaded .22-caliber pistol in a holster behind the seat. Under the plea deal, Tyra must forfeit the firearm, and as a felon he would not be allowed to own other firearms in the future. Tyra was indicted on a charge of carrying a concealed deadly weapon, but that charge was dismissed as part of the plea agreement.

Six other counts of first-degree wanton endangerment were merged into one count of second-degree wanton endangerment.

The Bourbon County case was prosecuted by Stadler, an assistant county attorney in Fayette County. Gordie Shaw, commonwealth's attorney for Bourbon, Scott and Woodford counties, has an arrangement to use lawyers in the office of Fayette County Attorney Larry Roberts as special assistants to handle felony matters.

The plea agreement was handled in Versailles because Judge Isaacs was already scheduled to preside over a long docket of cases there on Wednesday. Isaacs presides over courts in Bourbon, Scott and Woodford counties.

This was not the first case in which a trap set by Trya killed a dog.

Montgomery County court records show that Tyra pleaded guilty in July 2012 to misdemeanor trapping violations after a dog died there. In that case, a black Labrador mix named Billy Boy died after he stuck his head into a trap that had been set in a culvert on Aarons Run Road near Mount Sterling. The dog died in December 2011, just a few weeks before Redmond's dog died in Paris.

Tyra paid a fine and court costs totaling $403, and he surrendered his trapping license for two years.

Jacqueline Muth of Montgomery County, Billy Boy's owner, attended Wednesday's court proceeding. She said she was unhappy that Tyra will not face greater potential jail time. "This is the best our legal system can do?" Muth said.

The Montgomery and Bourbon County incidents are not isolated. Hundreds of household pets die in traps set across the country.

In December 2012, a 100-pound Akita died in Utah after sticking its head in a trap that was set in a public park. A group called Dog Lovers 4 Safe Trapping organized in Minnesota to lobby for stronger regulations to prevent dogs and other pets from dying in traps.

Greg Kocher: (859) 231-3305. Twitter: HLpublicsafety.

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