A Lincoln County jury awarded a Star City man $145,000 this week after a Monroe County man shot and killed his $10,000 hunting dog.
Newell Gill and three hunting companions, Mackie Edmonds, Lee Edward McGriff, and Darrel McGee, all of Star City, were coon hunting in late 2012 on the North Branch of White River National Refuge in Monroe County when their dogs crossed over onto private property and treed a raccoon.
The dogs had trailed and treed raccoons that were attracted to corn dispensed by deer corn feeders on the landowner’s property, according to Gill’s attorney, Charles Sidney Gibson of Dermott.
Gibson said coon dogs cannot be called off once they tree; they have to be pulled off by hand and leashed.
Though there were posted signs on the property, there was no phone number to call for permission to retrieve the dogs. “The hunters rightfully put away their guns and went to retrieve the dogs,” Gibson said.
When they did so, they encountered an irate man armed with a rifle. The man, Frank Newby of Holly Grove, threatened to shoot the dogs and the hunters if they attempted to retrieve the dogs. Over Newby’s objections, Gill retrieved his dog, a 4-year-old treeing Walker named Buck, and leashed him.
Newby then ordered Gill to back away from the dog so he could shoot him. Gill refused and the man shot the leashed dog.
“It was a horrible experience for Newel Gill to helplessly watch his leashed dog’s execution then thrash around his feet in agony,” Gibson said. “Gill has nightmares yet about that night.”
Gill filed a civil suit against the man and was awarded $145,000.
The 5-man, 7-woman Lincoln County jury on Wednesday awarded Gill $100,000 in punitive damages and $45,000 in compensatory damages.
In the criminal case in Monroe County last year, Newby was convicted of a misdemeanor, fined, and sentenced to six months in jail. Gibson said he doesn’t know how much of that sentence, if any, Newby served.