A 52-year-old South Lake Tahoe man convicted of maliciously killing a neighbor’s dog in the Gardner Mountain area was sentenced to 30 days in county jail, 500 hours of community service, and a $1,500 fine for the misdemeanor on Wednesday.
An eloquent and lengthy argument from George Frederick Voit’s defense attorney, David DeVore, citing Voit’s years of service in the U.S. Navy and spotless record, didn’t change Assistant District Attorney Sean O’Brien’s recommendation for jail time.
“I agree that Mr. Voit has led an exemplary life, but we cannot allow people to go through our community, shooting them up, because they lost it,” O’Brien told the court. “This is the sort of behavior that is too dangerous to be ignored.”
Voit was arrested Sept. 17 when South Lake Tahoe Police responded to the 700 block of Taylor Way for numerous reports of gunshots and a reckless driver. According to the police report, Richard and Lisa Abbott, the owners of Porsche, a 3-year-old Australian shepherd and chow mix, were not at home at the time of the shooting. Lisa Abbott’s mother, Carolyn Christensen, was out in front of the home on Taylor Way with her 2-year-old granddaughter at the time of the incident.
Christensen told police that Voit drove by the home twice threatening to kill the dog if it was not taken in the house. When Christensen warned him that she would call the police, Voit reportedly told her to go ahead because he would gladly pay a fine to kill Porsche.
When Voit returned a third time he pointed a .44-caliber magnum revolver at the dog from his car, fired twice – killing the dog – and sped away.
Voit was angered by an incident earlier in the day when a large brown dog knocked Voit’s girlfriend to the ground while she was walking her two dogs. Police never established that the dog that attacked Voit’s girlfriend was Porsche.
DeVore argued that Voit was under extreme pressure in the months before the incident due to the death of his parents and having to care for his invalid younger brother. The attorney told Judge Jerald Lasarow that Voit was a man who became overwhelmed by circumstances that were foreign to him and when his girlfriend came home after being knocked down, it was the trigger that set him off.
O’Brien said Voit’s break came when acceptance of his plea of no contest to a felony charge of discharging a firearm in a grossly negligent manner was deferred. O’Brien agreed to the deferred plea due to Voit’s position as conservator for his younger brother. Social Security policy prohibits individuals with felony convictions from acting as conservators.
Several of Voit’s neighbors wrote letters on his behalf and showed up in court to show their support. Judge Lasarow said Voit has a year to serve the 30 days in custody and can do it in any time increments he wishes.
“Firing a weapon in a community can be deadly and result in a murder charge,” Lasarow said to Voit before pronouncing his sentence. “Sometimes people react greater when an animal is shot even more than when a fellow human being is shot, which concerns me, but by your conduct you have really hurt the family.”
When asked about his feelings on the sentence DeVore said it had been an emotional time for Voit and they didn’t wish to comment on the case at this time.
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