McBurnett sobs as she testifies about Leo’s death
SAN JOSE, Calif.- Sobbing as she recounted the death of her beloved Leo, a woman testified Thursday that Andrew Burnett grabbed the dog from inside her car after a rainy-day fender-bender and threw Leo into oncoming traffic.
Sara McBurnett said Burnett yelled at her, reached in through her open car window with both arms and grabbed her dog. She said Burnett then turned and made a throwing motion, and she spotted Leo running across two lanes of traffic.
”He was running terrified. I could tell by his eyes,” she said. ”They just ran right over him in front of me.”
McBurnett testified on the second day of the animal cruelty case against Burnett, whose lawyer claimed in his opening statement that Burnett threw the dog as an ”instinctive reaction” after being bitten by Leo.
Lawyer Marc Garcia said his client was angered when McBurnett’s car rear-ended his car, and he walked over to confront her. That’s when Burnett was bitten, Garcia said.
”The dog snapped at him. Bit him right on the hand,” Garcia told jurors.
But McBurnett testified that Leo never bit Burnett.
An earlier witness, John Mora, said he saw Burnett throw the fluffy white bichon frise into oncoming traffic, where Leo was run over by a minivan.
”He threw it 5 to 6 feet,” Mora testified. ”He threw it relatively hard.”
Burnett is charged with killing or maiming or abusing an animal, a felony punishable by up to three years in prison, in the Feb. 11, 2000, incident.
McBurnett was driving to pick up her husband at San Jose International Airport when she said a large black truck cut her off. She claims she was unable to stop in time to avoid tapping its rear bumper.
”I remember a black SUV passing me very rapidly on the right and cutting in front of me,” she said, adding that when Burnett left his vehicle a short time later he was ”walking in a very aggressive manner back to me, yelling something.”
The damage was minimal, both sides agreed, but Burnett walked back to McBurnett’s vehicle and argued with the dog’s owner before grabbing the animal. Garcia said his client had no idea, after dropping Leo to the ground, that the dog would later die after being struck by several cars.
Burnett, 27, has been jailed in Santa Clara County since mid-December on unrelated charges of grand theft, filing a false document in court and having a dangerous weapon while in jail.
His bail is set at $200,000, and he is awaiting trial on those matters.
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