A Leavenworth man who had been facing a felony animal cruelty charge has been convicted of a misdemeanor.

A Leavenworth man who had been facing a felony animal cruelty charge has been convicted of a misdemeanor.

The trial of Lemuel D. Hunter Jr. took place Thursday in Leavenworth County District Court.

Hunter was convicted of a misdemeanor charge of animal cruelty for singing a dog’s whiskers with a propane torch. The incident was reported Feb. 19, 2018, at an apartment in downtown Leavenworth.

The trial was before a judge without a jury.

District Judge Michael Gibbens ruled there was not enough evidence to find Hunter guilty of the felony charge. But Gibbens said there was sufficient evidence to find Hunter guilty of the misdemeanor.

Assistant County Attorney Michael Jones, who prosecuted the case, called three witnesses to testify during the trial.

Hunter’s wife, Terrie, was one of the witnesses who testified.

Terrie Hunter testified that she had been in her bedroom Feb. 19, 2018, when she heard a commotion in another area of the apartment.

Terrie Hunter testified she did not see what happened. But she remembered seeing a propane torch and smelled burnt hair.

“From the smell of it, I thought he had burned the dog,” she said of her husband.

Terrie Hunter said she called the police.

During cross examination, Terrie Hunter testified the dog, named Gracie, had been aggressive toward her husband.

“At times, she had been,” she said.

Ward C. Richards III, an officer with the Leavenworth Police Department, also testified.

He was one of the police officers who responded to the defendant’s apartment the night of the incident.

Richards estimated the dog weighed between 20 and 30 pounds.

Richards spoke with Hunter and his wife at their apartment. These conversations were recorded by the officer’s body camera.

Jones played about 15 minutes of video from the body camera during the trial.

In the video, Terrie Hunter tells the officer of previous incidents in which she claims her husband mistreated the dog after it urinated in the apartment.

Terrie Hunter also tells the officer in the video that her husband had punched the dog in the head earlier that day. She also says her husband had tormented the dog by banging on its cage.

She also tells the officer in the video that her husband got close to the dog with a propane torch.

In the video, Richards asks Lemuel Hunter why the dog’s whiskers are singed.

Hunter says in the video that he uses the torch when moving the dog from one cage to the other. Hunter says he was not trying to burn the dog.

“I don’t know,” he says in the video. “I guess the dog got burned going by me.”

Les Cline, Leavenworth Animal Control supervisor, also testified.

Cline testified that he picked up the dog from the apartment the day after the incident at the request of the deputy police chief.

Cline testified that it appeared the dog’s whiskers were singed. He said the dog showed no signs of other injuries that required attention from a veterinarian.

Cline said Leavenworth Animal Control housed the dog for about two months. He said Terrie Hunter eventually relinquished her rights to dog.

He said Animal Control found a rescue organization that would take the dog, and the animal was placed in a home.

Jones rested the prosecution’s case following Cline’s testimony.

Defense attorney Geoffrey Sonntag made a motion for a judgment of acquittal. Sonntag argued the prosecution had failed to meet its burden of proof.

Gibbens denied the motion.

Sonntag then said his client was waiving his right to testify during the trial and the defense was resting its case.

During his closing argument, Jones said the evidence showed that the defendant was angry with the dog and pounded a stick on the dog’s cage to torment the animal. Jones said the defendant then placed a lit torch next to the dog’s face.

Jones said he believes singing a dog’s whiskers amounts to an injury.

During his closing argument, Sonntag said his client explains in the video that what happened was an accident.

“I think the physical evidence is consistent with the defense’s theory,” he said.

Sonntag acknowledged that using a torch to move the dog from one cage to another was ill advised.

“Yes, Mr. Hunter would have told you that,” Sonntag said.

Gibbens said the prosecution had not proven that the crime was a malicious act. This is one of the elements that was required for the felony charge.

Gibbens noted that Terrie Hunter had been in a bedroom and did not see everything that happened.

The judge said he found the defendant guilty of the misdemeanor for knowingly but not maliciously injuring the dog.

The judge set sentencing for Aug. 16.

Jones said Hunter likely faces probation.

Hunter remains free on bond as he awaits sentencing.

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